Woodstock organizers desperately wanted the Beatles to headline Woodstock. They reached out to John Lennon. So why didn’t it happen? After all, the Rolling Stones headlined the Alamont Speedway Free Festival in December of 1969 in front of 300,000 people.
There are various legendary explanations as to why the Beatles didn’t play Woodstock. One account is Lennon insisted the festival include a slot for Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band. Organizers turned that down.
Another explanation was Lennon’s visa problems. At the time his entry to the US had been blocked by the Nixon Administration due to an arrest in London for marijuana possession at his home the previous October.
The more likely explanation is twofold. The Beatles hadn’t played a concert in over three years and the group was in chaos. Beatles manager Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose in 1967, artistic and personal differences began to fragment the group. Yoko Ono’s influence over Lennon led to the inevitable. A month after Woodstock, the group broke apart though the split was not acknowledged until November of 1969. The long and winding road had come to an end.