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The Road to Woodstock


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About the Author

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.


With George-Warren (Grateful Dead 365), Lang, the coproducer and copromoter of the August 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Festival, shares his experiences orchestrating the iconic event. After reminiscing about his childhood, he describes his role in organizing the first Miami Pops Festival and then turns to his idea of a countercultural celebration in upstate New York. The author portrays the people who formed the nucleus of the Woodstock effort as well as his negotiations with artists, promoters, and filmmakers by interspersing quotes from festival personnel and musicians with his narrative. Though Lang's descriptions of outfitting Max Yasgur's farm with portable toilets, plumbing, and electricity become somewhat tiring, his fond memories of the adrenaline rush of multitasking to meet a deadline for several hundred thousand youths energize these pages. He spends the last quarter of the book reliving the three days of music at Woodstock through his and others' stories and anecdotes. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the most notable rock festival of the 1960s, this book will be enjoyed by both the general public and music fans. -Dave Szatmary, Univ.of Washington, Seattle Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"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." -- Carlos Santana "Reading this inimitable account of how Woodstock really came to pass makes the Manhattan Project seem like whippin' up one of my mom's custard pies...[This book] he and Holly George-Warren will 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." -- Kirkus Reviews "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." -- USA Today "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." -- Richmond Times-Dispatch

For three days in August 1969, half a million music lovers happily braved torrential rains, endured lack of food and clean water, and grooved to the cosmic blues of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, danced all night to the funky soul of Sly and the Family Stone and witnessed the birth of a new band called Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Held at Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y., the first Aquarian Exposition, or the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, grew far beyond the expectations of its creators. In this lively memoir, Lang, one of the festival's cocreators, retells the story-some of it already well-known-of the halting steps that he and his partners took to develop the greatest rock concert of all time. After a stint at NYU, Lang moved to Coconut Grove, where he opened a head shop and, with the help of some of his friends, organized Miami Pop in 1968, one of the first outdoor music festivals drawing major acts. Burned out on Miami, Lang headed to Woodstock, N.Y., to settle into the bohemian community of artists and craftsmen, and opened a recording studio. With a storyteller's verve and energy, Lang regales us with the tales of struggles with smalltown political leaders who opposed the festival, the kindness of Max Yasgur and the gargantuan task of feeding and taking care of a community the size of a large city. With the gritty insights of the ultimate insider, Lang weaves interviews with performers and others into his memoir, providing a glimpse of the madness, frustration, happiness and sheer euphoria that turned Woodstock into a memorable music festival. (July) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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