Fatboy Slim Recalls Horror That Ensued at Woodstock ’99 – “I Did What I Was Told and Ran”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Netflix recently debuted their latest documentary series Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99. The three-part series covers all the horrors that ensued during the Woodstock ’99 festival, which was intended to revive the “summer of love,” its sister event spearheaded in 1969.

“Woodstock 1969 promised peace and music, but its ’99 revival delivered days of rage, riots, and real harm. Why did it go so horribly wrong?” an official listing reads.

The 30th-anniversary edition of the event, which had an estimated attendance of 400,000, failed to provide basic facilities such as water, food, toilets, or security measures.

The documentary features a number of exclusive interviews with the artists billed to play the event, including DJ and producer Fatboy Slim who recalled all the horrific details of his set.

Fatboy Slim (aka Norman Cook) was booked to headline the “rave hangar” on Saturday night of the festival but was unaware of the out-of-control crowd that was heading toward the venue.

“I’d been closeted in my dressing room all afternoon with people just going, ‘Oh it’s a bit chaotic out there,'” Cook remembered. “But no one had told me there’d been any damage—that there’d been any violence.”

He recalled the moment a van drove through the crowd while he was playing, “I became aware of something that I thought was a kind of floating dance platform, like a podium with about 20-30 people on it, which turned out to be a van.”

It was later revealed that the vehicle had been stolen by a gang and was traveling through the rave hangar crowd towards the stage. “Then I got the tap on the shoulder, and it’s like, ‘We gotta stop the music. The vans gotta go’,” Cook said. “[And I said]: ‘Aw, not tonight.’ You know this is Woodstock. It was all going so well.”

Later, an archive clip from the night sees Fatboy Slim telling the audience that it wasn’t his fault he had to stop the set before the crowd began throwing things up on the stage.

“That was literally the moment when everything started to look a little less fun,” Cook said.

The Stage Manager, AJ Srybnik, remembered how the driver of the stolen van had “glazed” eyes and “really wasn’t present.” It turned out that he was armed with a “rusty machete” and was in the vehicle with an underaged girl, “maybe 15 or 16 years old.”

Srybnik added, “[She] literally had her shirt over her breasts, and her pants were down her ankles. She was passed out. And there was a guy in the back with her who was putting his shorts back on. I was floored. It just took the life out of me.”

Cook added, “That’s just hideous to think that in the midst of all those people having fun and me wanting to make everybody love each other… that that was going on literally under our noses.”

The DJ then recalled the adrenaline he felt after being advised to make a quick exit from the Woodstock site. “I did exactly what I was told and ran,” he said.

Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 is now streaming on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.

Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Behind the Band Name: Def Leppard

Behind the Beef: A Look at the Gallagher Brothers’ Heated Sibling Rivalry