Woodstock 50 Has Finally Been Cancelled

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

July 31, 2019

Woodstock 50's sad, slow death is finally over.

The 50th anniversary of the most iconic festival in music history was called off Wednesday after months of setbacks and bad news, Variety reports.

Last time we heard that Woodstock was canceled, the organizers quickly denied the report, blaming a financier for trying to "kill" the show.

While it's yet to be corroborated publicly by co-creator Michael Lang or his team, the festival happening at all has been in pertinent question for a long time. Being that most of the festival's lineup dropped off the bill after it was announced the festival was moving to a location in Maryland and attempting to rebrand itself as a fundraiser, there didn't seem to be enough time to rebook performers who could draw a 20,000 capacity crowd.

The original Woodstock 50 site in upstate New York was expecting 150,000 revelers when it was booked.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Lang suggested artists donate a portion of their fees to the charity HeadCount, which works to encourage voter participation.

"We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the Festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating," he said.

Whispers of Woodstock's eventual cancellation were in the ether as early as this past winter when the ticket on-sale was inexplicably delayed.

Then financier Dentsu Aegis aborted, which set off months of legal battles. Woodstock's organizers secured an important victory in court that allowed them to proceed with planning, but then the town of Watkins Glen, New York, denied Woodstock a permit for the proposed festival site.

An effort to rebook the festival at a smaller scale in Vernon, NY, also failed.

Still undeterred, Woodstock had a permit approved this week at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, but the previously-announced lineup (most of whom have already been paid) was no longer contractually-bound to perform. Lang says the artists were released by Woodstock but asked to consider playing as a charity benefit.

Lang added that when it became clear that Woodstock 50 was not going to happen in New York, the organizers "looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel."

Ultimately, even if the artists wanted to stick with Woodstock 50, Lang says many were unable to make it to the new site, either because of logistical issues (tours headed in different directions) or radius clauses with other venues that prevented them from performing in Maryland.

He added thanks to the artists, fans and partners who "stood by us" and added that he sends best wishes to the 50th anniversary celebration in Bethel Woods, NY, (at the original festival grounds), hoping it serves "to reinforce the values of compassion, human dignity, and the beauty of our differences embraced by Woodstock."

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