Bill Hanley and Woodstock

Topics: Grateful Dead, Woodstock Festival, Live sound mixing Pages: 3 (805 words) Published: May 7, 2014
Bill Hanley and the Sound of Woodstock ‘69

Throughout the last century, quality and innovation in the realm of live sound reinforcement and arrangement has progressively developed to achieve what we now own and use. The more sleek and streamline audio equipment that has come to be did not simply appear out of thin air but was developed through the hard work and collaboration of engineers, electricians, physicists, and even performers and continues to do so. However, certain performances in the past have required such an abundance of sheer power and know all with the recognizable equipment from the 20th century and one such occurrence was the Woodstock music festival in 1969 at Bethel, NY. To be precise, Bill Hanley was largely responsible for the creation of this monstrous and spontaneous sound system with unanticipated size of the crowd.

Festival Producer Michael Lang was quoted saying, “When you’re starting something on this scale, the most critical thing is the people you bring to it.” Bill Hanley was clearly the man for the job. He custom built much of the equipment that was brought for the event and maintained the mixing duties to ensure that the crowd of over 500,000 people would get the best possible sound structure that the producers were capable of delivering. Only 150,000 to 200,000 people were expected. As the concert carried on, the rain soon turned the rolling green fields to thick mud and while more and more people poured into the property, “it was said only two things worked consistently; the water supply, and Bill Hanley’s custom-built sound system.”

At the 2008 Audio Engineering Society Convention in New York City, Bill provided a lengthy discussion of the sound system that was generated. They built the front of house mixing station on top of a platform roughly 75 feet from the stage so the stage was visible and the mix was audible. There were several Shure 4 to 1 mixers as well. The microphones on stage were custom built...
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