The Road to Woodstock by Robert Lang

road1Reviewed by Julie Moderson

Michael Lang tells a first person experience of organizing Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969.  He was only 24 at the time of Woodstock.  To Lang, Woodstock was a test of whether people of his generation believed in one another and the world that they were trying to create.  Could the hippies really live as a peaceful community that they envisioned?  Lang believed all along that they could.  Woodstock came to symbolize solidarity. 

On the six hundred acre farm of Max Yasgur, everyone became one big family, loving music, dealing with traffic jams, and unrelenting rainstorms.  It was truly a magical trip.  Hundreds of people worked countless hours to make Woodstock happen.  Woodstock, NY became the name because Lang went to a Sound Out there and came up with the idea to have a large- scale event but not the million plus that it became.  They only expected about 100,000 per day.  Traffic was backed up over 20 miles.

Woodstock was only advertised in trade papers, underground presses and college newspapers.  The prices they paid for some of the bands is so ridiculous – Santana was an unknown band and were paid a mere $1500.  Jimmie Hendrix was paid $30,000.  The Grateful Dead was paid $7500.  Arlo Guthre (known for Alice’s Restaurant) was paid $5000. Ritchie Havens, $6000, Janice Joplin, $15,000, Blood, Sweat and Tears, $15,000, Iron Butterfly, $15,000 Tickets cost $7 for one day, $13 for two days and a whopping $18 for three days.

Woodstock was held on the farm of Miriam and Max Yasgur and they were paid $50,000 because he was going to lose crops – so Woodstock wasn’t really in Woodstock it was in White Lake, NY.  After they were forced to change locations they only had 28 days to build everything for Woodstock. They drilled 5 wells for water, built roads, had power poles moved in, phone lines brought in, and hired police that wouldn’t arrest them for smoking pot.  The artists were flown in by helicopter and if they were filmed before they went on stage and gave them an additional 50% of their fee.  The Woodstock Production Co. could have owned the film outright before Artie made a deal with Warner Bros. for $100,000.  He was concerned with the skyrocketing costs to put on this festival.  He really thought a documentary film would never make a cent.  In the end they each made about $30,000 for a ton of work.

I strongly suggest you read this book that is a tribute to the music that lives in all of you.  The pictures are fantastic and the behind the scenes view is amazing, this is an awesome book that you will need to read a couple of times to absorb it all.

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