Yesterday the investors for Woodstock 50 announced that the August event—celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original—was canceled, noting, "We don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name." But hold up, one of the original Woodstock '69 organizers says this is exactly on brand! In an open letter, Michael Lang (who co-founded Woodstock Ventures along with other Woodstock '69 organizers Joel Rosenman and the late John Roberts) writes that this same thing happened five decades ago, and the show still went on. Here is his letter in full:
Dear Woodstock Friends
It seems in a way that history is repeating itself. In July of 1969 we lost our site in Walkill and with only a month to go we managed to move to Bethel. Woodstock was going to happen no matter what!
This time around, Woodstock’s new hometown, Dix & Watkins Glen, NY and New York State have been really wonderful. I went door to door to talk to the neighbors. Some remembered Summer Jam back in ’73 and were worried about history repeating itself. But they opened their doors to us and we talked it out. Many of those people have reached out over the last 24 hours with messages of hope and encouragement.
The venue, Watkins Glen International, have been totally supportive and professional.
Yesterday, our financial partner, Dentsu-Aegis, made the decision to pull out and informed us that they were cancelling the festival at the same time they let the press release go public.
We have yet to understand why they would try to prevent the festival from happening by seemingly undermining us in this way. It is one thing to decide for oneself that it is best to move on, but it is entirely another thing to try and close the door on us.
Yesterday, I couldn’t help but relive that moment 50 years ago—it was déjà vu all over again! Supporting the principles of activism and sustainability are too important to be derailed by shortsighted partners. We continue our work with NYS, Schuyler County and various parties to keep things on track.
Woodstock never belonged to Dentsu, so they don’t have a right to cancel it. Woodstock belongs to the people and it always will. We don’t give up and Woodstock 50 will take place and will be a blast!
Thanks for Listening,
According to a Billboard report, they had allegedly already spent over $30 million "and most artists have already been paid." Artists on the lineup include Jay-Z, Chance The Rapper, The Black Keys, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Pussy Riot, Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, the Killers, Dead & Co., Robert Plant, Santana, and many many more.
If the show does go on, we can only hope the press pen also resembles that of the original Woodstock:
I maintain that the most iconic Woodstock '69 photo is this one of the reporters, surrounded by discarded drafts and notes, in some sort of makeshift press area pic.twitter.com/FAYIK7nP94
— Jen Carlson (@jenist) April 29, 2019