Woodstock Music Festival Returns This Summer to Celebrate 50th Anniversary
By Scott Baumgartner
Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Summer 2019 just got a whole lot better!
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Woodstock Music Festival is returning to Watkins Glen, New York, to mark the 50th anniversary of the pivotal 1969 concert, according to Rolling Stone. On Aug. 16, 17 and 18 the quiet upstate community will be overtaken by thousands of music fans and some of the world’s biggest artists to commemorate the momentous occasion.
The original festival’s co-creator, Michael Lang, is helming the project and tells the magazine that over 40 acts have already been booked and attendees will be enjoying the music from three separate stages.
“It’ll be an eclectic bill,” Lang explained. “It’ll be hip-hop and rock and some pop and some of the legacy bands from the original festival.”
The original festival, mounted in August of the “Summer of Love” became a flashpoint for the counterculture movement in the U.S. Some of the artists who performed at the gathering included Janis Joplin, Credence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, Santana, Joan Baez, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
However, the performance long considered the most seminal moment of the festival was Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
There have been five iterations of the festival since, spanning from 1979 to 2009, the most infamous of which was 1999, held in Rome, New York. Sanitation was poorly managed and the weekend’s stifling heat (and overpriced bottled water) plagued performers and attendees. In addition, a number of sexual assault allegations were reported. On the concert’s final night, violent riots broke out, making another Woodstock appear unlikely at the time.
“I shouldn’t have left the booking to others,” Lang responded to the chaos of ’99. “And the water situation was ridiculous. As soon as I saw that, I tried to get everyone to lower the prices and I couldn’t. I did order tractor trailers of water and put them out for free. I do think a lot of people had a good time, but the fires at the end became the imagery of it. It was just about 200 kids who went on a rampage. They exploded some of the cooling systems in the tractor trailers and just wreaked havoc.”
The festival’s promoter added that he intends to get the event back to its roots this time, which is all about embracing the moment.
“Woodstock ’99 was just a musical experience with no social significance,” he said. “It was just a big party. With this one, we’re going back to our roots and our original intent. And this time around, we’ll have control of everything.”