A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 15, 2019
“If you can remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there”

The decade of the 1960s was known in the United States for drug use and music festivals such as Woodstock (held August 15–18, 1969, in Bethel, New York).

“EXIT LINE: Comedian Charlie Fleischer observes: ‘If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t really there’” was printed in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on June 13, 1982. Charles Fleischer is American stand-up comedian, actor, writer and musician.

“‘If you can remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there.’—Robin Williams, quoted in the Toronto Star“ was printed in the Windsor (ON) Star on August 12, 1989. Robin Williams (1951-2014) was an American actor and comedian.


Wikipedia: Woodstock
Woodstock was a music festival held August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as “an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”, it was held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Woodstock. It was alternatively referred to as the Bethel Rock Festival or the Aquarian Music Festival. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain. It has become widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation.

Wikipedia: Charles Fleischer
Charles Fleischer (born August 27, 1950) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer and musician, best known for appearing in films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Polar Express, Rango, and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story. He also reprised the role of Roger Rabbit in the Roger Rabbit theatrical shorts. After beginning his career on the comedy club circuit, Charles Fleischer’s first big break in comedy television came when he made an appearance on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.

13 June 1982, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “The Comedy Column” by Lawrence Christon, Calendar sec., pg. 60, col. 2:
EXIT LINE: Comedian Charlie Fleischer observes: “If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t really there.”

15 May 1987, Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, IN), “Beatles Analyzed in Documentary” (UPI), pg. 18, col. 2:
“If you can remember the ‘60s, you weren’t really there,” says Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane.

12 August 1989, Windsor (ON) Star, “Playbill,” pg. C1, col. 6:
YOU DON’T SAY—Watch out for the brown acid: “If you can remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there.”—Robin Williams, quoted in the Toronto Star.

Google Groups: comp.parallel
Class 7 definition
Eugene Miya
9/25/89
(...)
Any person who will quote you sizes or speeds: Robins Williams recently said: If you can remember Woodstock, you weren’t there.

Google Groups: rec.backcountry
Liability (past memories & ...)
Eugene N. Miya
6/11/90
(...)
If you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there.....
--Robin Williams

12 August 1994, The Record (Kitchener, ON), “Woodstock ‘94 lays ‘60s to rest,” pg. A8:
Nostalgia, organizers know, is an expensive fix and more addictive than pot. The original Woodstock was indeed a story that grew in the telling. And it may be true that if you can remember Woodstock you weren’t there.

Google Groups: alt.callahans
Modern Proverbs
Joyce Melton
6/4/02
EHursh wrote:
>Not to be confused with the Robin Williams line, “If you can
>remember the sixties, you weren’t there.”

The first time I heard a version of that was IN the sixties. “If you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there.”

Google Books
Woodstock:
Peace, Music & Memories

By Brad Littleproud and Joanne Hague
Iola, WI: krause Publications
2009
Pg. ?:
“We knew it was going to be a big happening and it was something we wanted to be part of,” says (Johnny—ed.)Winter. “People say that if you can remember Woodstock, you weren’t there. Well, I’m here to say the memories are very blurry, but I was there.”

Twitter
Denver7 News
@DenverChannel
If you remember Woodstock you weren’t there. But take a look at our interactive on Woodstock: http://is.gd/2h2BZ
3:40 PM · Aug 14, 2009·Twitter Web Client

28 November 2018, Derby (UK) Evening Telegraph, “Colourful freedoms of the 1960s” by Anton Rippon, pg. 27:
Whatever, when comedian Charlie Fleischer exited his act with “If you remember the 60s, you really weren’t there”, he wasn’t talking about people like me. I remember them very well because I led a sheltered life ("Yeah, bus shelters and air-raid shelters,” my mate Colin Shaw always says when I claim that) but it is true.

15 March 2019, Daily Mail (London, UK), “Answers to Correspondents” by Charles Legge, pg. 68:
QUESTION Was George Harrison the first to say: ‘If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there’? THIS quote has been attributed to just about everyone: George Harrison, Robin Williams, Wavy Gravy, Timothy Leary, Willie Nelson, plus Paul Kantner and Grace Slick, who were both members of Jefferson Airplane.

However, the earliest known citation for the quote comes from actor and comedian Charlie Fleischer in the Comedy Column of the Los Angeles Times on June 13, 1982: ‘If you are having difficulty decoding the joke, here is one explanation: the drugs/ alcohol/sex/bell-bottom-pants/love-beads/ insanity of the period has permanently impaired the memory of those who actually experienced the 1960s.’ The shortened form became a favourite of actor Robin Williams and he did more than anyone to popularise it.

Yahoo! Entertainment
Factbox: If you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there. Here’s a refresher
Reuters August 14, 2019
(Reuters) - Fifty years have passed since hundreds of thousands of people packed into an upstate New York dairy farm for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, one of the most iconic moments of the 1960s counterculture.

While the old joke maintains that people who claim to remember Woodstock were not there—with attendees too intoxicated to recall—veterans of the fair remember it vividly for its unanticipated scale.

Twitter
VIBE Pics
@DesireVibe
#RT @WSJ: It’s been said if you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there. Many lesser-known musicians were actually there, but few remember them.
They Played on the Main Stage at Woodstock 50 Years Ago—No, Really
The 1969 music festival drew an estimated 450,000 fans over an August weekend in Bethel, N.Y. They likely never learned the names of many musicians who took bows on the main stage and then slipped…
wsj.com
2:16 AM · Aug 16, 2019·IFTTT

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Thursday, August 15, 2019 • Permalink