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Woodstock Co-Founder on Why Woodstock 50 Imploded

'It's been a really bizarre trip,' says Michael Lang
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 5, 2019 8:27 AM CDT
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In this March 19, 2019, file photo, Woodstock co-producer and co-founder, Michael Lang, participates in the Woodstock 50 lineup announcement at Electric Lady Studios in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
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(Newser) – Shortly after Woodstock organizers announced the shambolic 50th anniversary concerts were off after months of setbacks and holdups, Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang summed up the drama in six words: "It's been a really bizarre trip." Over the last six months, Lang, 74, moved like a cat using all nine lives to make Woodstock 50 work. The first plan, to have an all-star concert with the likes of Jay-Z, Dead & Company, the Killers, and more in Watkins Glen, New York, some 115 miles northwest of the original 1969 concert—was scuttled after the venue backed out. Then the plan was to have it in Vernon, New York, but organizers couldn't get a permit. Lang finally found a location that would work—all the way in Maryland—but artists started to pull out of the festival and he decided to scrap the event and the anniversary concerts altogether.

Lang tells the AP that if he could go back and do things differently he would have tried to get permits earlier and worked with a different financial partner than Dentsu Aegis Network's Amplifi Live, which in late April announced it took back about $18 million—the remains of the $49 million it had put in—from the anniversary event. Lang said Dentsu's decision "really put a halt to our efforts to get a mass gathering permit because all of the government agencies stopped working when they announced that." Asked why he hadn't worked with a touring juggernaut like Live Nation, which puts on hundreds of festivals successfully, Lang said: "We really wanted to keep it independent. That's part of the character of our brand and our position in the world." He's still hoping there will be a Woodstock 50 at some point. "Maybe next year," he said. (The AP has much more here.)


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