The Road to Woodstock
By Michael Lang
(Ecco, Paperback, 9780061576584, 352pp.)
Publication Date: July 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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The story of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair begins with Michael Lang, a kid out of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who liked to smoke a joint and listen to jazz. He would find his way to Florida, open a head shop, and produce his first festivalMiami Pop, featuring Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and othersthen travel to Woodstock, where, after meeting Artie Kornfeld, his vision for a festival where folks could come and stay for a few days amid the rural beauty of upstate New York would become a reality. With Artie, new partners John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, and his handpicked crew, Lang booked talent, from Janis Joplin and the Who to the virtually unknown Santana and Crosby, Stills and Nash; won over agents, promoters, and townspeople; took on fleets of volunteers; built a festival site from the ground up; and, in the end, created the landmark cultural event that defined a generation.
Michael Lang has produced festivals in East Berlin, the concert at the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Woodstock '94, and Woodstock '99, among many other events worldwide. He is the head of the Michael Lang Organization, producing live events; is a partner in Woodstock Ventures; and, with Sam Nappi, runs Harmony Entertainment, producing film and theater. He lives in upstate New York.
Four decades of nostalgia, hallucinogens, and box sets make us forget that the Woodstock Music & Art Fair didn't descend from a sky of positive vibes and land softly atop a field of dancing hippies. Michael Lang, co-creator of the festival, returns to the scene of the grime in his new book The Road to Woodstock.
“Lang, one of Woodstock’s organizers, provides details about how the production was put together and kept running. His account is interspersed with interviews with performers and others, including, perhaps most interestingly, Hugh Romney, aka Wavy Gravy, of the Hog Farm, whose group provided order, reassurance and, as we know, granola.”
-New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row
“At Woodstock I saw a collective adventure representing something that still holds true today. When the Berlin Wall came down, Woodstock was there. When Mandela was liberated, Woodstock was in there. When we celebrated the year 2000, Woodstock was in there. Woodstock is still every day.”
“Reading this inimitable account of how Woodstock really came to passmakes the Manhattan Project seem like whippin’ up one of my mom’s custard pies....[This book] he and Holly George-Warrenwill knock you out and once again make you wish that you were there.”
-Terry Stewart, President of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
“Totally rocking...what elevates this book above the level of most rock memoirs is the inclusion of voices other than Lang’s—including scenesters and key Woodstock players like Jimi Hendrix, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Jerry Garcia….Well-written, informative and tons of fun.”
“Invaluable…[Lang] wraps up his cinematic reminiscing by taking a seminal thread from Woodstock’s history—Jimi Hendrix’s breathtaking interpretation of The Star Spangled Banner—and linking its poignancy to what some have called the 21st century Woodstock moment: the day Barack Obama became the first black president.”
“The shelf of books about Woodstock is groaning, but Lang’s is the best fly-on-the-wall account, tantamount to having had a backstage pass to an iconic event.”
-New York Post
“There are plenty of juicy tidbits in “The Road to Woodstock,” starting with the compelling opening of Lang sharing his backstage view of Hendrix’s sizzling performance at the rain-soaked end of the festival.”