The late ’60s was a period of intense protests and unrest that culminated, musically speaking, with the largest live event in history: Woodstock, 1969.
Abbie Hoffman, a member of the Chicago Seven, during the show probably felt too householder so taking advantage of a break in the Who’s performance, between “Pinball Wizard” and “Do You Think It’s Alright?“, felt free to climb on stage and show his disappointment with the incarceration of John Sinclair’s White Panther Party,who was arrested for giving two joints of grass to two undercover cops and just been sentenced to ten years in the Michigan State Penitentiary. He had just enough time to grasp the microphone and shout: “I think this is a pile of shit while John Sinclair rots in prison …”, when Pete Townshend, The Who guitarist, assaulted him by hitting his Gibson on the back warding him off with a shove on the face, saying: “Fuck off! Fuck off my fucking stage”.
The rest of the band was amazed, so Pete took up the microphone and delivered a typical expression of that time: “I can dig it” and toned the next song, but probably the thing irritated him beyond measure so that soon after, to the audience, said: “The next person that walks on stage is gonna get fucking killed, alright? You can laugh, I mean it!”.
Then Pete said that Hoffman simply violated the “sanctity of the stage”, namely the right of the band to give their best without the distractions that are beyond the purely artistic performances. Townshend said to share the protest outlined by Hoffman, but in that moments performance has a number one priority and therefore he would throw anyone who interfere with the show, regardless of what he have to say. Hoffman downplayed the incident, calling it “non accident” as Townshend accidentally bumped into him.
Unfortunately it all happened during a change of film and there are no filmed records as evidence, what remains is an audio track that The Who themselves included in “Thirty Years of Maximum R & B” (Disc 2, Track 20, “Abbie Hoffman Incident”).