Atop the “Light” bus at Woodstock
Berkeley Springs visitor and musician Trudy Morgal has no idea who snapped the photo of her at the Woodstock festival. In it, she’s sitting on top of their band’s painted Volkswagen gig bus with Rick Peters, another Light band member.
The photo was circulated widely around the United States and the world. It’s considered an iconic image of the three-day music festival that took place on August 15-17, 1969 that half a million people peacefully attended.
Morgal didn’t know the photo had been taken until she saw it in the Baltimore Sun’s Maryland section issued at the festival’s 20th anniversary. The picture was also featured in the November, 2002 Rolling Stone.
The “Light” bus
The band’s 1969 Woodstock “Light” gig bus, colorfully painted with flowers and cosmic symbolism by artist Bob Hieronimus, also became famous. Limited edition miniature die-cast replicas of the bus were produced. The wheels and steering wheel move and they even put amps and guitar cases in it, Morgal said.
When she went to Woodstock, Morgal said she never dreamed that one day she’d be holding a replica of her band’s festival bus in her hand.
Morgal was also interviewed and quoted extensively in the 40th anniversary book about the festival called Woodstock: Peace, Music and Memories.
How they got there
Morgal was a drummer and vocalist for Light, a Baltimore-based band that played six nights a week. They could never see concerts due to working.
When the band heard
about the incredible line-up of musicians for Woodstock, they decided to take some time off and go, she said.
When they got there, the gate was being taken down. They told them their bus was in the art show and were waved on to a great spot on the hill.
Performers included Janis Joplin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, The Band, The Grateful Dead, Credence Clearwater Revival, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills,
Nash & Young and Ten Years After.
Morgal said that Janis Joplin was great at Woodstock and hung out with the crowd before performing. Canned Heat had the crowd frenzied with their driving music.
Everyone was going crazy during Sly and the Family Stone’s rocking set, she said. Morgal stood on two milk crates to get a good view and couldn’t believe she didn’t fall. For her as a drummer, the funk band was one of the highlights.
No one had much food or anything with them. Morgal said they bought watermelon and had three cans of peaches.
As Morgal walked back from filling a jug with water, she gave away so many sips of water that she had none left. People were so parched and would ask for a drink of water. You were glad to help someone out, she said.
Helicopters dropped oranges, fresh flowers, survival guides and plastic bags for people’s belongings.
While it was raining, bands couldn’t play so people swam and ran down the hill and slid in the mud. People stripped to wash their clothes in the pond and ran around naked while their clothes dried. It was a necessity, she said.
Peace & love
Woodstock was all about peace, love and sharing everything you had, Morgal said. It was a very relaxed, giving, caring atmosphere. Everyone was great together. She never saw an argument.
The band jumped in a lake on the way home from Woodstock. They were so dirty that Morgal said she expected to see dead fish pop up, but they had so much fun.
Then & now
Morgal said Light was together for six to eight years. They performed around Baltimore, in New York, at the Lyric Theatre and on American Bandstand. The band made four single recordings and had a couple of shots at the big time that didn’t work out. They eventually broke up.
Morgal continued playing music as a solo performer and in a duo with another Light member.
“The Voice” audition
Morgal auditioned in New York City in July for the television show “The Voice.” A sendoff party and jam for Morgal was held at Earthdog Café.
While she did well at her audition and was asked to continue onto the next round in another city, Morgal chose not to pursue it at this time. She has been having some vocal cord issues.
The training for the show is rigorous. While therapy has helped Morgal get some vocal range back, she said she would have been competing with a handicap. Morgal is going to wait after her voice heals from upcoming surgery and possibly try out again for a future show.
Morgal divides her time between visiting close friends and Earthdog owners Paul and Susie Allen here and staying at the Maryland shore. She has a recording in the works.