How would you feel if you were invited to play at Woodstock? The answer is obvious. Woodstock was one of (if not) the greatest concerts of the 1960's. And probably the most famous. However, before the actual concert took place, many bands did not perform because they were either advised not to, or they thought it wouldn't be a big deal.
The Beatles were reportedly invited to play at Woodstock. They obviously did not. Why? Surely this would have been a great performance. But at this point in time, mid-to-late 1969, The Beatles were collapsing. They had spent most of the summer out of the collaboration that they all were accustomed to. Not to mention that they had not played a real live show together since 1966. So needless to say, The Beatles turned down their offer. John Lennon thought that his side project, the Plastic Ono Band, would be a suitable replacement. The Woodstock organizers declined.
Led Zeppelin were also reportedly offered an invitation. Why did they not play? Well, their manager, Peter Grant, turned it down for them. He didn't just want to be "another band" performing at the festival. If Led Zeppelin were to have played it could have been very good for them. It could have also been bad though. Zeppelin was a fairly new band on the scene, forming in 1968. I, for one, think that they should have played the show. Although they were fairly inexperienced, it would have added a whole new dimension to an already amazing concert.
The Doors were originally scheduled to perform at the festival. They were very popular, and their performance would have certainly been one of the main spectacles of the 3 days. So why didn't they perform? They canceled. There have been many rumors as to why they canceled. One of the rumors is that Jim Morrison was having legal altercations at the time due to his arrest for indecent exposure. This was not why they canceled, however. They stated that they disliked outdoor venues. This may connect with another rumor that Morrison was afraid that someone would take a shot at him. This has not been confirmed as one of the reasons they did not play Woodstock.
Bob Dylan planned on making the show. However, his son had medical problems, and this caused him to cancel his suspected performance.
Jethro Tull refused to perform. They said that Woodstock wasn't a big deal, and they likely thought it would have been a waste of time. Oh, how they were wrong.
The Jeff Beck Group was invited, and they intended on performing. That is until they disbanded one week before the event. Ouch, bad timing.
Iron Butterfly were fully intending on showing up and performing. Unfortunately, they were stuck at an airport and they never arrived in time to play.
Joni Mitchell wanted to play, but her agent insisted that she did not. Instead, he wanted her to play on The Dick Cavett Show. Ironically, the two other bands that performed on the show with her did play at Woodstock.
So there is a list of bands that had the chance to perform at the historic event. Just imagine how they felt after the saw the turnout of approximately 500,000 people. Joni Mitchell's agent said that there would only be 500 people. Try 1000x that. Of course we find this shocking because we know how Woodstock turned out. They had no idea.