For those unfamiliar with the history behind this colorful paint job, it's quite the story. The band named Light — a Baltimore combo that never quite made it to the big time — needed a touring vehicle to go to their gigs in town. They ended up paying artist Bob Hieronimus $1,000 to do a custom paint job on their Microbus to turn it into a "magic bus." This paint job wasn't specifically done for Woodstock, because the band wasn't actually playing in the event. However, the band still packed into the van and took off for the festival to watch. As they got closer, police stopped the van along with every other car on the highway from getting to the festival grounds. The band lied and said the van was part of the art exhibit portion of the show, and they were allowed through. That's how close the van was to never becoming the icon it is today.
Once the van was on the grounds, it took on a life much larger than itself. Concertgoers flocked to it, and photographers did, too. Photos of it appeared in Life Magazine and Rolling Stone. An Associated Press photo ended up getting printed in newspapers across the country and in countless other stories about Woodstock since. Because of all the attention paid to the bus, it became a symbol of a generation. Hieronimus' psychedelic shapes and symbols captured the hearts and culture of young Americans at the time, securing the van's fame today.
Ironically, Light the band broke up shortly after Woodstock, and the original van has been lost. But Bob Hieronimus, the same artist who painted the van in 1968, has just completed the paint job on the replica we see here. Volkswagen supported the restoration of the van, then let Hieronimus and his team go to town on it. Hieronimus and VW plan to tour the van across the country, with the ending point being the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.