36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
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. The story is told chronologically from the very beginning until the three day event came to a close. The small vignettes and viewpoints told by various attendees is what holds this book together and makes it worthwhile. The book's epilogue finishes with information on Lang and post-Woodstock activities. This is a real "insiders" look into how this festival came to fruition,and the narrative moves along at a good pace.
With a number of books being published on this,the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock,it's nice to have this book which combines not only Lang's thoughts and views from his perspective,but many others involved as well. The text is clearly written and makes for an entertaining and interesting read,no doubt with the help of writer Holly George-Warren. This book,together with two other recent books (WOODSTOCK REVISITED,Susan Reynolds,editor and BACK TO THE GARDEN by Pete Fornatale) the first of which tells about the three day festival through the eyes of the "average" person who attended or tried to attend,and the second,which combines historical and narrative styles,is a good overview of what went on at the festival (even though the author mistakenly has CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL's Stu Cook on drums and Doug "Cosmo" Clifford on bass) through the experiences of the performers. Together,these will give as much information and insight into the event that most readers will need.
The combination of Lang's "nuts and bolts,from the start" build-up,on through the festival,gives a good picture of how this event came to pass. In the end,THE ROAD TO WOODSTOCK will make most readers wish they,too,could have traveled to this pasture land for this once in a lifetime event. If you grew up in the sixties-here's a chance to relive a part of your youth. If you weren't around to remember the times-this book will help you understand it a bit better. This book gives insight into the "sixties" era,and the mind-set of the time-a time and event that will never happen again.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2009
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
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2009
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?", Rosenman and Roberts were bunkered in at command central writing check after check and dealing with such things as the unhappy and angry farmers and local citizens; dealing with the idiotic Food for Love vendors who basically were jerks and strong armed them into giving up any and all profits from food sales at the last minute; getting food and water into the festival; hiring the necessary helicopters at the last minute to get the sick kids out and the musicians in; recognising that your thousands of dollars invested so far is growing with each passing minute with little or no hope of seeing any return; hiring the many doctors and nurses required to deal with such a large crowd; hiring the security staff; dealing with over flowing toilets; the traffic jams(like THAT was their fault?); the state and local police; the angry phone calls from frustrated and hysterical parents looking for their little Sally; the electrician who had to re-route the main power feed in mid-festival before the insulation completely came off and wound up electrocuting 500,000 kids; having to fly the local bank manager to his branch at 1 in the morning because The Who and Grateful Dead would not play a note until they had either cash or a cashiered check in hand prior to going on the stage; and etc. etc. etc. While Lang and Kornfield may have been the kids who proposed the idea of a concert as an after thought to their original plan of constructing a recording studio up in Woodstock, it was Rosenman and Roberts who put the plan into action and funded the entire project. For a much more enjoyable, exciting and informative read, get the book "Young Men With Unlimited Capital: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of Woodstock" written by Rosenman, Roberts and Robert Pilpel, originally published in 1974 with a new forward added in 1989. While Lang had some interesting stories revolving around dealing with the artists and what was happening at the site itself, I found Roberts and Rosenman's book much more insightful into the inner workings of what went on behind the scenes at what was the greates music festival of all time.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2009
This book is like a time machine which transports you back to an era of great social upheaval and change. Woodstock gave our generation a much needed ray of sunshine. "The Road to Woodstock" is such a fun read that it's difficult to put down. Having many of the musicians reminisce about their experiences at Woodstock gives this book a timeless feel, like it happened only yesterday. For young people, who weren't even born yet, this book will show them why Woodstock mattered well beyond just being a music festival and that their parents and grandparents did make a difference.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2010
First of all, this book is a useful addition to anyone's library who is interested in the Woodstock festival and how it came to be. It's an interesting read and adds a lot of new information.
My beef is with the "Complete Set List" included in the back of the book. Comparing the set list to information from the book "Back to the Garden," by Pete Fornatale, the set list is neither complete nor is it accurate. The performers are listed in the wrong sequence and the set list does not reflect what was actually played at Woodstock. How could Richie Havens have played for 2-1/2 hours but only performed eight songs? (He performed way more than that). John Sebastian played on Friday, not Saturday, etc. etc.
The problem with including something in a book that is in error, even something relatively minor and not attributed to the authors of the book, is that it brings in to question the accuracy of the book in general. The set list doesn't add to the book, it detracts from it, because, as far as I can tell, it is wrong.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2009
If you ever watched the Woodstock film then you'll remember seeing the young, curly haired man on the motorcycle being interviewed about founding the Woodstock festival. That young man is Michael Lang. He was a bit shy and reserved when being interviewed on camera. Always with a perpetual smile, and keeping everyone around him at ease during the time of that fest.
This book was written by Michael and it gives us all of the inside information about the formation of the festival, from it's original concept to the actual show that transpired on August 15-16-17 1969.
I love the way Michael tells the story and inserts recollections from each of the behind the scenes collaborators who helped manage Woodstock. It gives the reader a new perspective at how difficult a festival of that size can be, and what an amazing job they all did to make it a reality.
What folks forget these days is the fact that back in 1969, rock music was strictly underground. We had no MTV, or even any of the magazines or satellite radio stations we have today. There were no cell phones, no MP3 players, no internet and computers. This was from the early stages of pop culture as we know it today.
Michael and his friends and business partners had to convince the residents and politicians in upstate NY to allow a vast collection of young people to converge on their property for a weekend during the best vacation time of the year in that region. It wasn't an easy sell for Michael & company.
Michael also had to deal with contract agreements from a huge variety of artists, as well as securing all of the accessories that come with an outdoor festival (food-water-toilet facilities-and security services from local and state police, as well as housing for the musicians and transport to and fro the festival site).
Woodstock was initially a financial disaster, but after reading this one can see what an amazing job was done to make this epic festival happen.
If you love reading about the actual formation of a historic event, this book is a must read.
Or if you just love the music and occurrences of Woodstock and want to know what happened behind the scenes, here's your ticket.
I also cheers me to know that Michael Lang is still that curly haired hippy @ 65 years of age, and is still actively involved with festival events.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2015
This book provides a magnificent insight into how Woodstock 1969 came about. I found it thoroughly well written, vastly entertaining and entirely engaging.
I've read numerous Woodstock books that chronicle the event through the eyes of those who attended the event. However, to read the story behind the scenes of Woodstock, from concept through fruition and beyond, from the point of view of one who was central to production is priceless. This is a story only Michael could tell with anecdotes skillfully interwoven from both production team members and performers, lending insight and clarity to how and why decisions were made. It was a hell of a ride, overcoming monstrous adversity at every turn. Clearly this was the festival destined to be.
Additionally, and gratefully, this book includes photos of those providing anecdotes allowing the reader to put faces to names.
I almost didn't purchase this book because of some of the negative reviews it received. Let me put it this way; if you want to hear the amazing tale of how Woodstock ultimately became the cultural phenomenon it was, from the man himself, then give it a chance.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2010
michael's laid back philosophy of life is firmly entrenched in this book. this does not mean he was lazy or anything like that. he worked himself and everyone around him nearly to death putting on this festival. the laid back philosophy refers to his comments when things were obviously not going the way he planned,eg., several hundred thousand more kids showing up than he expected he just said "it's enough that its happening". this book really gets down to the nuts and bolts of putting on a concert of this magnitude, the problems involved with city,state governments,the logistics were enough to overwhelm anyone. he was just fortunate to have some very dedicated and hardworking people around him that were just as dedicated to putting this thing on as he was.
this book is well laid out,has some wonderful quotes by the promoters,artists and just plain folks who attended this wonderful three days of "peace,love and music". it also has several archival pictures which are very interesting. all in all a very informative and well written and great read!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As the title implies, this book takes us along on Michael Lang's journey leading up to and culminating with the Woodstock festival. I was a teenager in the '70s, and grew up in the shadow of all things Woodstock. As with any major event, rumors and half-truths became legendary. Lang clarifies it all here, and I enjoyed learning how the event really unfolded.
Woodstock was not just about the music. It was about freedom of expression, equal rights, and unity. We see all that play out here. I've always believed Woodstock to be one of those pivotal points in history. We can never repeat its magic, but we can reflect back and learn.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2014
I went to Woodstock, and am incredibly nostalgic for it. I have read pretty much all the books on the festival, but reading the tale from the man who created it and changed my life was incredible. I could not recommend it more highly. Michael Lang and I have similar souls, I discovered; when we wanted the music and it wasn't there, we both made it happen (in my case, it was producing shows of the first feminist artists as well as distributing records despite no experience whatsoever), it required dedication and fearlessness.