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The Road to Woodstock Hardcover – June 30, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“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 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.” (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)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (June 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061576557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061576553
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stuart Jefferson TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Hardcover,283 pages of text-including a short "Where are they now?" section,and a complete set-list of performers at Woodstock. There is also an index and source section,not included in the above page count. There are twenty-four pages of black and white photographs which lend a good,though limited,visual idea of the festival.

This is another good book about the three day event in 1969,which centers a lot on Michael Lang,which is fine. His partner,Artie Kornfeld, was crucial in helping distill Lang's ideas into something approaching a workable plan,especially in the beginning,for which he should be remembered. Between the two of them,they arrived at the idea of holding a music festival to pay for a recording studio set-up they envisioned in the Woodstock area,an area where a lot of musicians either "hung out" or lived nearby.

The book,written in a combination of first person and historical style,begins with a short overview of Lang's youth in Brooklyn,and continues with his college-age days and beyond in Florida. He talks about his "headshop" and producing the Miami Pop (with five dollar admission) Festival. After moving to Woodstock N.Y.,is when the studio complex/living area idea began to crystallize (no pun intended) in his head. Talking it over with Kornfeld (an A&R man in the music business) they thought people would love the bucolic surroundings and come into the area to live and record.

The story is also told through other people involved in the venture and through a number of performers at the event. This is where the "meat" of this book is found. The viewpoints of the many people (Chip Monck,Pete Townshend (among many performers),Wavy Gravy,John Roberts,et al) really tell the story in an immediate,"I was there" way.
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Format: Hardcover
In a book like this, "THE ROAD TO WOODSTOCK" all that really matters is that it is a fun read. Whether or not it completely accurate is beside the point because after all if a poll were taken now, 40 years later you could well find several million people who will swear they were there/ Why? Maybe it is that sixties nostalgia that people now in their late fifties and early sixties - for the most part - want to believe they didn't miss one of the major events in their lifetime. Honestly, I wasn't there and even though I am now sixty, I admit I am glad I was not there, mainly because no one would believe me if I did say I was there. What I do have is a ticket to the three day event that is one of my prized possessions and one I will never part with. Unfortunately at the last minute the employer I worked for at the time (I was trying to save enough for the next semester at college) cancelled my vacation and insisted I work the weekend or don't bother coming back. Maybe I should have balked, but as they say water under the bridge.

What I do remember about Woodstock, and this book and many others have retold it over and over is that it was, despite the terrible weather, insane crowds, lack of food, medical services and sanitation, it all came off without any crime at all. Think about it, when have a half million people gathered under unexpected circumstances and everyone acted civilly. No rapes, no murders, no beatings and no theft. It is completely unbelievable but at the same time it says something absolutley amazing about that (my) generation, especially considering the social upheavals going on all around the world at that time. At the center of the SIXTIES, it was phenomenal, and shows something very positive can still come out of difficult times.

It was a pleasure to read, and contains no political tirades or hate hate speak from the right or left, and that alone makes it worthwhile. Highly recommended summer read
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being an avid fan of Woodstock and the late 60's music scene, I'd like to share my personal opinion of Michael's book, (40 years after the fact! Cashing in on the whole renewed Woodstock fad are we Mike?) The book was interesting and fun but it wasn't the "inside" definitive story I was hoping for. There was nothing relevatory or new that hadn't been written before. The one HUGE problem I have with the Mr. Lang's book, and again, it's just my own personal feelig, is that I was hugely dissapointed at the ommission of the importance of Joel Rosenman and John Robert's contribution to making Woodstock happen. Quite frankly, without their hard work and more importantly, their huge checkbook, the festival would never have taken place. When they say from the stage that the festival is now a free festival and the backers are going to take a "big" bath, they weren't talking about Lang and Kornfield, they had no money invested in the project what so ever, it was Rosenman and Roberts. While Lang and Kornfield were tripping out and grooving at the festival site and going on and on about how it's all "totally groovy man", and "the important thing is that it's happening man, who cares that it's financial disaster?Read more ›
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