Chamblee54

Half A Million Strong

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on January 29, 2011






PG has read “The Road To Woodstock” by Micheal Lang, ghostwritten by Holly George-Warren. Mr. Lang was one the the producers of the Woodstock music and arts festival in 1969. It is quite a story.

Mr. Lang was a Brooklyn kid, who got turned onto the counterculture in 1959. When he decided that college was not for him, he did what Jews do…he moved to Miami. Before long, he owned a head shop, and was promoting a rock festival. The Miami Pop Festival, in 1968, featuring Jimi Hendrix and a big rainstorm, was sort of a success. Micheal Lang was back in New York soon.

Mr. Lang met Artie Kornfield, who was in the recording business. They started to talk about ventures, and had an idea for a recording studio in Upstate New York. They met some guys with capital, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman. The four of them became Woodstock Ventures. Somewhere along the way, a music festival in the country got started.

Back to 2010, with PG waiting to talk to someone at the Department of Labor. A book is a handy companion in a waiting room. He brought a notepad along.

PG is reading a memoir about the Woodstock festival, and it is a gold mine of trivia. Did anyone know that Joan Baez was pregnant? Jim Morrison would not appear because he was afraid of an on stage assassination. The promoters kept Pete Tomnsend up until 8am to convince him to play. When it finally went off, the Who followed Sly and The Family Stone.

In Woodstock, the town of Walkill kicked out the festival, and, with a few weeks to go, they met Max Yasgur. Max rented the farm to 50k. This was the same price that David Selznick paid to Margaret Mitchell for GWTW.

Bethel approved the festival July 21, one day after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The festival was August 15-17.

The Jeff Beck Group cancelled, when Rod Stewart quit the band to join Faces.

PG got his business done at the DOL, and the festival on Yasgur’s farm went off. There was a lot of chaos and ignorance, but good will saw the thing through. The first act to perform was Richie Havens. He was playing an acoustic set while the electric PA was set up, and was not allowed to leave the stage. Finally he ran out of material, and just started to say the word Freedom and jam. This is what appeared in the movie.

PG saw Richie Havens in 1974, at a nightclub in Atlanta called Richards. Havens played a Guild guitar, which he strummed, hard, across the front of the instrument. He would wear holes in the front of his guitar, which apparently did not last for more than a show or two. The crowd…this was the second show of the evening, starting at 2am…kept yelling for Freedom.

Back to the dairy farm. The story is familiar by now…it was a free concert, they ran out of food, and tie dye was perfected. Abbie Hoffman jumped on the stage during the Who, and Pete Townsend hit him upside the head with a guitar. Stephen Stills did not need a laxative.

After Jimi Hendrix played the final set, the crowds went home, and the workers wanted to get paid. A series of meetings took place to settle the business end of the festival. Lang and Kornfield were bought out, and Roberts and Rosenman owned the franchise.

The Woodstock festival was a milestone of sorts. Richard Nixon was new to the Presidency, and the war in Vietnam was going strong. The moratorium in the fall of 1969 was the high water mark of the anti war movement. Soon,the government started to withdraw troops, and look for “peace with honor”. And so on and so forth. The sixties were too beautiful to live, and too profitable to die.

Pictures are from “Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. They are from 1969 ( give or take a bit) in Atlanta, GA. This is a repost.






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