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Fans melt over Gavin Rossdale at Woodstock ’99: ‘That really was his peak’

Bruno Cooke August 4, 2022
Woodstock 1999

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Netflix viewers have been reliving Woodstock ’99 via Trainwreck, a three-part documentary about the ill-fated festival, and one performance that stands out for many is the one by Gavin Rossdale and his band Bush.

Rossdale also appears as a talking head in the first episode of the series, alongside several other musicians and festival organisers, including late co-founder Michael Lang.

Bush are an English rock band. They’re still going – they released their most recent album, The Kingdom, in July 2020.

How have Bush fans reacted to seeing Gavin Rossdale as a young man at Woodstock ’99, and what do people make of his memorable ‘I am a black man’ proclamation?

Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 | Official Trailer | Netflix

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Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 | Official Trailer | Netflix
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Fans swoon over Gavin Rossdale as a young man at Woodstock ’99

At the time of Woodstock ’99, Gavin Rossdale was 33. He turned 34 the day before Halloween that year.

Bush had, by that time, been around for seven years. They formed in London in 1992. The original line-up comprised Gavin Rossdale on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Chris Traynor on lead guitar, Corey Britz on bass, and Nik Hughes as percussionist. 

Those watching the Woodstock ’99 documentary on Netflix have been tweeting about how “stupidly attractive” Gavin Rossdale was then. 

One writes it “really was his peak. Like, shut up! That’s not allowed!” Another says he was “such a hottie” in the 1990s.

Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns

Bush’s Woodstock performance catapulted The Science Of Things to platinum status

Bush convened in August 1998 to record their third studio album, The Science Of Things. However, a court battle with Trauma Records put the brakes on its release.

It eventually came out in October 1999. Despite its slow start, The Science Of Things quickly reached platinum status.

Part of the momentum behind it was Bush’s performance at Woodstock ’99 – they played a prime-time 90-minute set on the Friday night, directly after Korn.

However, they disbanded in 2002 amid declining record sales. Gavin then spent half a dozen years with his new band, Institute, before Bush reunited in 2010.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Gavin Rossdale’s memorable Woodstock ’99 stunt: ‘I am a black man, I am a white man’

When he introduced The Chemicals Between Us, the first single from The Science Of Things, Gavin Rossdale said something that would be remembered years later.

According to MTV’s 21st Woodstock ’99 report from 24 July 1999, Gavin Rossdale took off his black T-shirt and said: “I am a black man, I am a white man. I’m an Englishman, I am an American. This is the chemicals between us. This is the connection.”

AV Club pulled the clip “from the depths of YouTube” in 2018. 

“To be fair,” the outlet wrote at the time, “we all used to say things we wouldn’t any more. And in the defence of Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, there’s probably only so many different ways rock stars in the Nineties could articulate some version of, ‘We’re all just people, so let’s come together rather than be divided.’”

The clip no longer appears to be on the video-sharing site, however.

Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

Rossdale’s marriage to singer Gwen Stefani lasted 14 years

Four years before Woodstock ’99, Gavin Rossdale met Gwen Stefani, then lead singer of rock band No Doubt. They were on tour together.

They married in 2002 and have three sons – Kingston (born 2006), Zuma (2008) and Apollo (2014).

However, on August 3, 2005 Stefani filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. 

Rossdale then dated German model Sophia Thomalla for a year. Bush released Black And White Rainbows in 2017, and The Kingdom in 2020. The band’s newest member, Nik Hughes, joined in 2019 as a drummer.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.