I was the co-creator and producer of the iconic Woodstock Festival in 1969, and since then I have produced many shows around the world, including Woodstock 1994 and 1999. And I've enjoyed watching the growth of music festivals ever since!

You can learn more about Woodstock on our official site and here's the link to the Woodstock General Store as well.

I'm looking forward to taking your questions - Victoria will be assisting me today. Ask me anything.

https://twitter.com/woodstockfest/status/510101498672336896

Update: We're out of time, it's really been fun, and thanks for all your interest and your support, and we'll see you at the next one!

Comments: 191 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

taylorferreira18 karma

hi michael, i'm taylor! do you have ONE favorite moment from woodstock that you wish you could relive? a performance, greeting someone, etc...

by the way, THANKYOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU'VE DONE, honestly you're one of my heroes :)

Michael_Lang49 karma

Let's see, a moment that I would have - well, I'll tell you, I don't know if I would want to relive this but it stands out in my mind, and that is coming across Abbie Hoffman at 3 AM in the morning after he'd been working in the hospital for 24 hours after he'd imbibed, I think, some mind-expanding experiences on the way... he grabbed me and insisted I come back with him to the bowels underneath the stage where he said somebody was wandering around with a gun, I sort of went along with it but then nobody was there, and I said "why don't you come up with me on the stage," the Who were about to play, and so he said ok, and we went up, and sat down next to the stage, and Abbie had been wanting to talk to the audience about John Sinclair, who was a guy who had been arrested and sentenced to jail for 15 years for having a couple of joints of marijuana, and I said "Well, there's a break, if you want to say something you can" and he said " I need to say it now" and became animated / upset, and I said " you have to wait until this break, just sit back and enjoy it' and at one point, when Pete Townsend turned to adjust his amp, Abbie grabbed his mic and started to talk about John Sinclair, and when Pete turned back and saw someone at his mic, he swatted him across the back of the head with his guitar, and Abbie went off the front of the stage and off into the crowd, and that was the last i saw of him for the weekend...

komarowy12 karma

Hi, I'm writting thesis about Woodstock '69 and Przystanek Woodstock in Poland. I'm happy that I can tell you about it, it's very important to me. Tell me - about what you've never been asked, but you think that it's important for history of Woodstock Festival?

Michael_Lang22 karma

I guess I've never been asked whether I thought it worked so well because it was free.

Whether or not that was why it worked so well. And I don't think that that, that's sort of the common wisdom about Woodstock. But I think that many people were coming looking for a place to buy tickets, and our ticket booths weren't in place to buy them, but I think the way we handled that had to do with why it worked so well. We realized the obvious, it was free, and didn't do anything stupid to screw it up. So I guess that would be the thing I'd have to say, in terms of what contributed to its success.

But we had planned this to be an all-inclusive, all-encompassing event, and welcomed anybody who wanted to come, whether they wanted to buy a ticket or not, and planned for many people showing up without tickets. I had been to most of the events that summer, and that spring, around the country - the Denver Pop Festival, the Atlanta Pop festival, and many others, and there was quite a bit of violence at most of the shows, mostly because of confrontations with the police over gate-crashers.

There was a movement amongst the alternative generation - maybe that's the wrong word? - there was a movement amongst the subculture in America that music should be free, even though there were practical reasons why it couldn't be, and that caused confrontations frequently at musical events, and we wanted to neutralize that potential. So we had arranged for free stages, free campgrounds, free kitchens, to accept anyone who wanted to be there.

PaladinSato11 karma

What was your job after the last band played?

How did the job of putting together and taking apart Woodstock differ from what you thought it would be?

Michael_Lang21 karma

My job was meeting everybody on the Bank on Wall Street to sort of figure out what we were going to do next. We had been through an incredible experience, and of course with the coming of Monday afternoon, with the show being over and the festival behind us, we had to deal with the financial reality.

I had no real expectation of what - the amount of work it would take to put Woodstock together. Only that it was going to be an all out effort and we all had to give everything we had to have it happen. My partners and I really understood that we had to put all of ourselves and everything, all the focus that we could for this to come to fruition. And it was just a question of giving 100% and hoping you got to the end. And that when you did get there, the festival would be something very special. And the necessary pieces would be in place. We lost the site we had been working on for months. We lost the festival site in Wallkill, New York. About a month before the festival was to happen. That was devastating. The miracle of Woodstock is - the day after we lost that battle, we found Maxi Asger and the site in Bethel, which was really the site we had always hoped for. Wallkill was something we had to make do with - we had been looking for a site for months and running out of time, Wallkill was an industrial park that had to be made over to create what we were hoping for, which was a bucolic setting in the country. And when we found Bethel, it was just a miracle.

fede01_810 karma

Woodstock 99 is not remembered very fondly. What are your takeaways from that experience?

Michael_Lang18 karma

My takeaways from Woodstock 99 are a bit complicated.

A lot of people had an amazing time. There was lots of amazing music. It was unfortunately an incredibly hot weekend, and being on that air force base where the heat was reflected from that tarmac was really problematic. Without the rain in all that heat was a problem. And frankly, as I said earlier, a lot of the music was kind of angry, and the audience was young and of the same headspace, so I'm a little bit conflicted about Woodstock 99. There were some great things about it, some amazing performances, but the sensibility and feeling, they were also kind of mixed in terms of what people were coming for and what they were trying to take away from it. It was a question of really the booking strategy and an attempt to make it a more modern festival. In 1994, we booked the festival as a kind of bridge between the original 69 event and the contemporary acts from the 94 period. Woodstock 99 was really a much more modern booking, and as I say, it reflected the nature of the music at that time, which was pretty angry.

LARRYBOY69969 karma

Mr. Lang...I was there in 69 and 16 years old. My crazy question is Why the bridge in the woods going to the hog farm when a path was beside the bridge? I'll never forget it, along with many other moments.

Michael_Lang8 karma

I think that you are confusing the bridge and the path. The bridge was over one of the roadways that led to the artist compound. And that was really the only bridge that was built. The path that you are describing that went by the hog farm and to the vendor village was just a path.

two_off8 karma

What were the biggest challenges back then for putting on such a massive event?

Michael_Lang15 karma

The biggest challenge was envisioning, you know, what this was going to be and then creating a space to contain it. It had never been done, something of this size and this scope, had never been attempted before, so a lot of it had to be invented. So that went from how the site was laid out & developed, to water systems, how many portajohns and garbage, because there was no precedent, we had to send people to public places like ballparks and train stations to time people using the public facilities, and then multiplying that by 200,000 by however many times we thought they would be using the portajohns throughout the weekend. Or we'd take paper plates and cups and multiply that by the amount we thought we'd be using during the weekend. Or the amount of water we needed to supply... the way the stage was built, the turntable we built to facilitate the changing of the act, the fact that we were providing free stages, free campgrounds for those people who were coming who couldn't afford to pay, because we wanted it to be all-inclusive... imagining what we'd like to see happen, the putting the pieces in place for what we'd like to see happen. That was the biggest challenge, and the most fun, actually!

LivingInTheVoid7 karma

Why did you price gouge people for water back in 1999?

Michael_Lang16 karma

That was something I found out about too late to change. It was a big mistake on behalf of the vendors. To try to compensate for it, we had free water everywhere easily available, but we also bought truckloads of water ourselves and gave it away at first aid stations. It was just something that got behind me and I got wind of it too late to change it.

foo_forte337 karma

Did the original Woodstock meet or exceed what you expected?Also, how did you design the now iconic posters?

Michael_Lang13 karma

Woodstock exceeded, I think, everybody's expectations. It met our hopes for what the event would become - for this sort of coming together of the tribes, if you will, bringing what were many of the people of our generation together who had spent that decade involved in a lot of social issues, like civil rights, human rights, we were very much against the Vietnam War, we were pro political freedoms, ecology and how we were treating the planet, there were lots of these ideas that were being born & nurtured during this decade.

So we were hoping that we could live out that weekend in a way that we envisioned the planet living together, people around the world living together. And I think that in that way, it exceeded our expectations.

The first poster we did was by David Bird and it was a water bearer, which related to the Aquarian exposition. And that was what David came up with, after we sort of described the name of the festival and what it was about. And then we made it something more direct, and I think John Morris (who was one of the senior guys on our staff) knew a guy named Arnold Skolnick, who had done a logo for a friend of his. We met with Arnold, I described to him this idea of a bird on a guitar, and gave him the 3 days of Peace & Music which was our slogan, and Arnold came back the next day with the cutout poster, which was just perfect. First take, he got it, no changes.

RedditRalf6 karma

If you had any choice of performer from any time, any place, dead or alive to be a headliner for Woodstock, who would it be and why?

Michael_Lang21 karma

It probably would have been John Lennon. And we really tried to get John to Woodstock in 69 but he wasn't allowed in the country. We felt he embodied everything that Woodstock was all about. So I'd have to say John Lennon. Yeah.

Here's a clip of him talking about the Festival.

ruffian705 karma

At any moment did you think...hmmm...maybe Elvis?

Michael_Lang10 karma

That was my Sha Na Na moment, actually - with a tip of the hat to rock n' roll. Elvis, of course, would have been amazing.

gildedtreehouse5 karma

Who was in charge of the band/crew transpo? Once the roads were clogged most bands took helicopters in assuming there wasn't a lesser known roadway. Correct?

Michael_Lang10 karma

Yes.

The roads (after the equipment trucks) managed to get through, some of the bands got through by road, but most by helicopter. And that was really run by John Morris and his crew, who were handling those logistics.

Elrez7275 karma

Thank you for creating an event that although I didn't attend(I was 11) is now bringing me so much joy. Recently visited Bethel and went to the event site was lucky enough to meet some people who had attended, even one from my hometown and yours Brooklyn. It was apparent by looking at them how overwhelmed and thrilled to be back. I read your book and was fascinated. How were you able to keep everything and everyone so peaceful? Do you think it was the love of the music, or something else?

Michael_Lang7 karma

You know, first of all, it wasn't me who kept everyone so peaceful, it was everyone there who kept themselves peaceful. We were planning 3 days of peace and music, trying to see if we could live in peace with each other, that was part of the experiment. I think everyone who came wanted to see that happen.

We brought The Hog Farm, a commune from the Midwest, to help acclimate people when they arrived onsite to living in the outdoors for the weekend, to help them set up campsites and figure out how to deal. And they were also responsible for helping provide the free kitchens, and it was Wavy Gravy, a man called Hugh, who was responsible for making those wonderful announcements from the stage, and they really set a tone of this community that was growing - they would welcome people who came, and help them set up campsites, and when they were acclimated, they would encourage them to do that for the next group they encountered, and that really, you know, from the ground up built this sense of community and brotherhood and sisterhood that permeated the entire weekend.

Jpax3005 karma

Did you ever expect it to be so huge?

Michael_Lang17 karma

We started out planning for a crowd of about 200,000 - that was just a number that we threw out, it certainly hadn't been done before, the largest events were maybe 30, 40k people. And we thought if this thing caught on, and people responded, then MAYBE we'd approach that number. So we planned for 200,000 and we built the facilities to handle a crowd of 200,000 people. It was really like building a city, in that you had to provide all the services and health considerations for getting a city of 200,000 through 3 or 4 days in the country. We probably tended to overbuild, and because we had such an incredible staff of people who were unshakable and very creative, we were able to expand so that when 600,000 people showed up, we were somehow able to get through the weekend.

rowmac895 karma

What bands would you most like to play at a possible 50th anniversary of Woodstock in 2019?

Michael_Lang10 karma

It's a little early to tell who's going to be around in 2019, due to changes and taste change and some of the older acts are retiring, so I would really have to give it some time and look at this a little closer to the 50th.

oceangirl645 karma

Do you go back and visit the Woodstock site and do you plan to be at the 50th anniversary?

Michael_Lang9 karma

I have been back to visit the site. There's a museum and a performing arts center there now, which is very beautiful. And the 45th Anniversary... they showed the film on the field, and the day before, I went out there to meet Artie who was coming for the film, and he and I spent some time together alone on the site, which was the first time we'd been together there in 45 years. And yes, I definitely do.

krystyn-5 karma

Hi Michael! Hi Victoria! Wow I feel like there's SO much I'd love to say to you but right now all that's coming to mind is THANK YOU, I'm not sure if I'd be who I am if it weren't for the history you've played such a huge role in creating, especially Woostock. I've been wanting to write you a letter for a long time but have had not one clue of how to send it?? (you know the kind people used to write & send in envelopes) thank you thank you thank you

Michael_Lang5 karma

Thanks for that.

And there's a place on our website for people to share their thoughts & their memories about Woodstock, so please contribute to it. Or to our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Woodstockcom/146013036729?ref=br_tf

SatelliteofLouvre4 karma

How many of your friends took the brown acid?

Michael_Lang10 karma

None of my friends, that i know of.

DearBurt4 karma

What was it like to hear the song "Woodstock" for the first time?

Michael_Lang23 karma

Hearing that song for the first time was amazing. I was in LA, and I was riding down the Sunset Strip, and Stephen Stills pulled up next to me in a car, a convertible, motioned me over to the curb, said "I have something you need to hear, follow me back to the house." So I followed him back to the house, and he and Dallas Taylor played me the Woodstock song for the first time.

And it was completely mind-blowing.

I was so moved by it, because it was like an anthem for what we had lived through.

I was just terribly moved.

theaussiedrummer4 karma

What was your personal favourite performance from Woodstock 69?

Michael_Lang18 karma

There were many amazing performances at Woodstock.

You know, I particularly enjoyed seeing the reaction of the community to the newer acts we introduced - Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Santana, and others - and if I had to pick my favorite performance for the weekend, I guess I'd have to say Sly and the Family Stone because they created such an amazing energy with the audience. But you know, there were those performances, like the performance that Richie Havens gave opening the festival, that was amazing. Jimi Hendrix was closing performance, where he played an amazing version of The Star Spangled Banner that really spoke to what we had been through during that decade, so it's really hard to pick out one.

BonxFingerflaps4 karma

Former Saugertiesian and current Albanian here, I think I may have seen you once at the Tango Cafe. Anyway, are you hiring in any capacity?

Michael_Lang5 karma

Not just yet! But stay tuned.

la-blakers4 karma

What changes have you seen festivals make over time that either makes them better or worse overall?

Michael_Lang14 karma

I think that festivals have come into their own in a lot of ways. And some have become more specialized, in terms of genres of music - the EDM shows where it's just DJs, heavy metal shows, and then there are those that are more eclectic, presenting theater, spoken word and art (I've always been a fan of having art involved in any music event).

I think the industry has grown up. The production and technical side has certainly evolved into state of the art business practice & facilities. But I think that we've lost a bit of the social significance of what festivals could really bring to the table.

It's great that people have a great time, and the experience of being away for 3-4 days and sharing a likeminded experience. But I think there's an opportunity for social involvement & social change whenever there's a large gathering of young people, and I think that's been a bit lost.

frankduxvandamme4 karma

Any further insight you can offer as to why The Doors didn't participate?

Michael_Lang6 karma

What I'd heard - and I don't know if it's true or not, frankly - Jim was pretty busy with legal issues, and I'd heard that he felt he would be assassinated at Woodstock. And so declined. But I think the reality was that the band was not really working at that time.

unicorn9284 karma

What's your favorite animal?

Michael_Lang4 karma

Ha!

Um... I guess horses and dogs.

HipEddy3 karma

How you felt during that days knowing that it was a your idea and you did know at the time that it will become the most famous concert of all the time?

sorry, english not my mother tongue

Michael_Lang4 karma

We had no idea it would become the most famous concert of all time while we were planning it. While it was going on, we started to feel it was certainly special. But it's been just wonderful to have been a part of it, and to have experienced it. All of us who were responsible for producing it felt that way.

la-blakers3 karma

What do you think is the best modern festival and what is your favorite modern festival?

Michael_Lang5 karma

I'd have to say I haven't been to Coachella, although I understand it's a great festival. Of the larger ones, I would say Glastonbury and Roskilde and Bonnaroo. But there are many smaller festivals that are wonderful experiences as well. Festivals have come a long way. And have a lot to offer.

MrFetus3 karma

What are the main 3 reasons Woodstock is not happening today?

Michael_Lang9 karma

I think Woodstock is present, or has been present, continuously since 1969 in spirit.

There have been a couple anniversary shows. There will likely be a 50th anniversary show as well.

But Woodstock was not conceived as a yearly event in the beginning. It was just this social experiment, really, for us to see how we would do if we were in charge of our living space. So it was never sort of envisioned as being something that would take place year after year. The hope that it spread around the planet because of the way that it happened and how peaceful it was, how everyone came together in this family community and shared everything and helped each other through the weekend, was so positive that it gave hope to a world that, at the time, was very troubled, and to a country that was very divided - there was a huge generation gap between the youth and their parents in those years, and it helped to bridge that gap.

So it remains, in everybody's minds through today, this hope that the world could be a better, kinder place.

ethanchasetremblay3 karma

Where you able to watch all of the acts? and who do you wish would have been there that wasnt?

Michael_Lang5 karma

I was able to watch many of the acts because I was situated on the side of the stage. We didn't have cell phones and we didn't have means of communication that we have today, and so the stage was really where all the direction came from, and where all communication took place, so I spent quite a bit of time on the side of the stage and got to see quite a bit of the acts. I wish that we had been able to get John Lennon to the festival, and it had been a dream of mine to have Roy Rogers close the festival with "happy trails." Which he sang at the end of his show on Saturday mornings, and we all grew up with him. Which I thought would be a fitting ending, but his management didn't see that.

ruffian703 karma

If you could go back in time and change one thing about Woodstock...what would it be?

Michael_Lang11 karma

I guess if I had to change one thing about Woodstock '69 it would be that we got the ticket booths up and in place... Because a lot of people were coming with the idea of buying tickets and there was no place to purchase them. We went into heavy debt because of that. But other than that, I wouldn't change a thing. It happened in such a perfect, organic way, the space that we created for something like this to happen really worked, I think the word of mouth and the idea that we put out to the public about it kind of got what it was going to be really resounded with them, and the audience really made it into something wondrous.

Maccas753 karma

Hi Michael! What advice would you give someone wanting to venture into the music business as a promoter or band manager?

Michael_Lang7 karma

You know, it's a very different business today. And probably a very difficult business to break into as a promoter, although to create and have a different approach to an event, a festival or a concert series or what have you, or a venue, you jump in with both feet. In terms of management, if you find a band that you can believe in and who believe in you, I think there's always room for that.

jamesar3 karma

Is it true that most of the acts that ended up playing Woodstock 1969 weren't actually scheduled to play and that they just kinda showed up?

Michael_Lang8 karma

Hahaha!

No. They really didn't just show up. They were booked and contracted for and paid for. There were a couple of acts that played that weren't scheduled, and that was John Sebastian and Melanie. Both of whom just happened to be there and performed for us. But all the rest of the acts were contracted.

Boom_frontpage3 karma

Who was your favorite band/performer?

Michael_Lang1 karma

I think I answered that in an earlier question.

MikeKeba3 karma

First I want to thank you for all you have done for Woodstock 1969, 1994 and 1999. What is your most memorable moment of each festival?

Michael_Lang14 karma

My most memorable moment at Woodstock '69 was when Richie Havens hit the stage to open the festival, and the sound system worked, and everything seemed to be okay. I breathed a big sigh of relief.

In 1994, there were many moments. i think one of my favorite moments was the mud fight that Green Day had with the audience. They just started tossing mud back and forth from the stage, to the stage, and just really won over everybody that way. And I guess also when Peter Gabriel sang and there were 350,000 kids with candles lit in the field at the end of the festival... I thought that was quite a moment.

And for '99, I guess the most dramatic moment was the fire at the end of Woodstock '99. It was a shame that it ended that way, the festival was fraught with some problems for the weekend, it was a time when the music was angry, and I always felt that Woodstock '99 felt more like an MTV event than a Woodstock event.

calls_you_a_bellend2 karma

Assuming you have a time machine, what acts that you've presented would you bring together for one big festival? Let's say a Top 10, or 5?

Thanks for the music Mr Lang.

Michael_Lang4 karma

I'd bring them all back, if I could.

CaseySubbyJ2 karma

As someone who just graduated with a dissertation on the merging of Western music and Hindustani music, much of my work was inspired by the late Ravi Shankar and his relationship with George Harrison. My question would be: do you remember how the audience reacted to Ravi Shankar's music, being it so different from many of the acts who played at Woodstock '69, but also so close to the music spirit of the era? Also whose idea was it to ask him to perform?

Michael_Lang6 karma

Ravi Shankar was a part of the musical landscape of the '60's. And indian music was very influential in those times. Ravi was my idea to book him and to have him perform. And he made a great impression on the audience, many of whom were very familiar with his music.

MikeKeba2 karma

I have always wondered whatever happened to the "Food For Love" guys Charles Baxter, Jeffrey Joerger and Lee Howard. Have you heard from any of them since the 1969 festival? If so did they stay in the food business? Or was their experience at the 1969 festival their first and last food venture?

Michael_Lang3 karma

It was definitely their last food venture.

They came together to do the food at Woodstock, and were not very experienced, and we were in a bind to find somebody to do it as the bigger companies we talked to sort of backed away. But I haven't really heard much from them since.

maxb19842 karma

Hi Michael -

Good to have you on here. I've got an original green Woodstock staff shirt - blank on the front with the big Woodstock logo on the back. It came from someone who worked at the Fillmore East & at Woodstock. I know they came in a few different colors -green, black, red, & blue. I'm curious if you remember what the designation was for each color? Thanks!

Michael_Lang3 karma

The only ones I know for sure was red was security, black was stage, and green was probably facilities / operations. Blue I don't remember. Healthcare was a white cross, not a Woodstock shirt.

taylorferreira2 karma

have you ever considered making a twitter account?

Michael_Lang6 karma

I've thought about it. And probably will.

ruffian702 karma

Have you ever been to Coachella or Burning Man incognito?

Michael_Lang5 karma

I have been to Burning Man. Which I loved. And it was like a trip to Pluto!

And visually, it just is really stunning. And an amazing experience. I haven't been to Coachella yet, I was at Bonnaroo this year. It certainly had a Woodstock feel about it. I am planning on going to Coachella next year.

Hobbits_Foot2 karma

What is the craziest thing you have witnessed at a Woodstock festival?

Michael_Lang8 karma

Oh god...

I guess the craziest thing I've seen at the Woodstock Festival was the birth of the "mud people" at Woodstock 1994. There were a couple thousand kids who just were completely covered in mud, and stayed that way for days! And actually inspired NIN to roll in the mud before their set. And that was visually the most stunning thing I'd seen.

Michael_Lang8 karma

And I guess just getting a look at the crowd on friday night at Woodstock 69 and seeing this sea of people was probably the most stunning moment for me.

fede01_82 karma

Why there wasn't a Woodstock on the 40th anniversary?

Michael_Lang6 karma

I guess we just didn't have the focus to do it on the 40th. We weren't really prepared. One of my partners had passed away, John Roberts, and I guess we just... weren't in the frame of mind to spend the year it would take to put it together.

MikeKeba2 karma

I heard you rarely wear socks. Is this true? If so why?

Michael_Lang3 karma

That's not necessarily true. I wear socks in the winter, not so much in the summer. It's just a habit.

calai2 karma

I took a special trip to the field in Bethel, NY where Woodstock was originally held and still couldn't believe such an epic concert was held there. At what point did you realize that you created the experience that every other music festival would strive to have? Is there any chance of another Woodstock ever happening?

Michael_Lang7 karma

Gosh, I mean, that came well after the weekend was over. You know, we knew that something magical had happened that weekend. Everybody who was there, or within a 50 mile radius, knew that they had lived through something very special. But we didn't realize how profound an effect it had had on the rest of the world until much later.

There is definitely a chance of another Woodstock happening. We are certainly looking at the 50th as a possibility.

Michael_Lang4 karma

And maybe something sooner. We'll see~!

Frajer2 karma

At what point did you realize the magnitude of Woodstock ?

Michael_Lang8 karma

We realized the magnitude early on. 2 weeks ahead of time, we'd sold 180,000 tickets. So we knew we were in for a huge crowd. It wasn't really until Thursday and Friday when people sort of started arriving in the hundreds of thousands that we knew just how big it was going to be. Apparently according to the state police, they turned back about a million people on the roads who were heading for Woodstock.

maxb19842 karma

Any good Bill Graham memories to share?

Michael_Lang5 karma

I do!

One day, early on, in the festival process, after we'd done most of our booking but not all, John Morris (who had worked for Bill Graham) came rushing into my office to tell me that we were fucked and Bill Graham is going to pull the show out from under us.

And Bill, you know, was legendary in the business and had basically INVENTED the business, so he was someone to be reckoned with, so I said "Call Bill in, we'll set up a meeting and see what the problem is." And I was worried this was sort of an ego thing on Bill's part. We met at Ratner's, which was a jewish deli restaurant next to the Filmore East, and we talked about what the problem was. Apparently Bill was concerned because we had booked his entire season at the festival, and what he said to me was "Why is somebody going to want to come to the Filmore and pay $6 to see one of these acts, when they can see all of them at your show?" So I was relieved there was a real business reason behind his attitude, and I suggested that i would add the acts to our advertising after they'd played his venue - we wouldn't advertise, for example, Jefferson Airplane, if they were going to play in May, until after they'd played in May. And that seemed to satisfy him, and he cooled down, we became pretty friendly, I invited him up, and later he sent me a tape of Santana ,which was a band he was working with who were locals to the Bay Area and who hadn't really recorded yet because they were just starting out, and they were of course one of the highlights of the festival. So I owe him for that.

starstarstar422 karma

[deleted]

Michael_Lang7 karma

We had a demand from the Grateful Dead and the Who to get them cash on the day of their performances. And paid half of their fees upon signing contracts, and the other half was to be paid on their performances. Because we had no gates, we had no cash. The only acts that demanded payment were The Who and the Grateful Dead. And of course, we had no cash onsite, so I had a meeting with their management teams and explained that we could give them a check and cash it on monday, but there was no cash onsite, and they were not happy with that. I said "look, if you're not going to perform..." and of course they performed anyway, and my partner Joel arranged with a local bank to open and get us the cash we needed to pay them on a Sunday.

ruffian702 karma

If I were to somehow acquire your iPod, what music would I find on it?

Michael_Lang5 karma

You'd find very eclectic music. Classic rock to EDM.

fwylo2 karma

With the massive culture of raves and music festivals that has come to fruition in recent years how do you feel it compares to things such Woodstock? In reality it is just a bunch of people getting together for the purpose of music and performances but the differences in specific recreational activities have apparently painted a poor light on today's music culture. Just wondering your thoughts on it. Thanks!

Michael_Lang4 karma

I think that the rave community is similar in some ways to sort of the Woodstock state of mind in that it's a peaceful gathering of people who are positive and enjoy this communal experience. I think that the drug scene that's associated with it is what's given it its bad rap, because drugs like Molly that are manufactured poorly are very dangerous and very prolific in the scene, and tragically there have been many deaths as a result of it.

MikeKeba2 karma

What do you prefer? MP3, FLAC or classic vinyl?

Michael_Lang3 karma

I guess I prefer FLAC and classic vinyl, vinyl being difficult to transport around with you but you can hear more of the music in vinyl, and FLAC is sort of close to that quality.

MikeKeba2 karma

Are Victoria's fingers sore yet from typing? :)

Michael_Lang5 karma

(yes)

ginabeab2 karma

To be the first, did you believe at the time it was about time to hold such an extended concert? What outdoor rock festival today is one you know you had a real influence on? And, do you still believe music performed in this way can change our way of thinking (like art)?

Michael_Lang5 karma

Yes, it felt like the right time to do this kind of event. It felt like we had sort of lost the magic of what we had experienced for most of the '60s, and sort of hoped that we would be able to usher in a better world, to make changes in people's lives that we thought were needed in terms of their freedoms and their rights and their respect for each other and the planet. And in 1968, things had gotten pretty dark, a lot of the political movements had started out peacefully with love in their hearts had turned violent, there were the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and we just felt that it was important for people to remember what we had been striving for and what that was all about and to see if that was something that was still part of our cultural aspirations. So it seemed like the ideal time to do this kind of event, one which would determine whether it was possible.

I think we've had an influence on all of the modern rock festivals.

I think music has an incredible power to make change, and to shape ideas. And so yes, I think music and art are both critical in terms of expressing ideas and making change.

pevans121 karma

Whats the craziest thing you've ever seen at Woodstock?

Michael_Lang2 karma

I think I've answered that.

hottovix1 karma

When you first thought of creating Woodstock, did you anticipate it to be as big and popular as it turned out to be?

Michael_Lang3 karma

We knew that it would be a special event for the people who came, and something memorable for them. We didn't know how it would resonate around the planet as it did, and how it sort of maintained its relevance all these years. We didn't know that.

hottovix2 karma

How long did it take yall to plan/organize all the bands and everything?

Michael_Lang2 karma

Producing the whole sort of beginning to end process took 11 months. Artie and I started looking for sites probably in september of 1968, and then we met John & Joel around the beginning of the year, and it was all out from there. So probably around 10 or 11 months.

onlyinthedarkness1 karma

what helped you come up with the idea for Woodstock?? and also, have you had any part in any other Music Festivals since then?

Michael_Lang8 karma

The idea for Woodstock kind of grew. I had done a festival called the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, and it had a profound effect on me. The reaction of the crowd to the music that we brought really moved me. It was also my first experience with a lot of rain, as it was a 2 day festival and the Sunday was rained out. But just the power of the music to move people really stuck with me. And then when I moved to NY, I moved back from Florida where i was living, and I moved to Woodstock, I liked the idea of living in a small town close to the city, and Woodstock seemed ideal. And I began managing a band that a friend of mine, Don, had put together called Train in the city. And began looking for a record deal for them, and in that process, met Artie Kornfeld who was working as the vice-president of A&R at Capitol Records. And Artie & I became immediate friends, and spent months just musing over ideas about music events, and living in Woodstock in the summer of 1968, I was privileged to attend the "sound outs" which were musical events based on a farm just outside of town. And the town was local, local talent in Woodstock with Morrison and Richie and just amazing groups, there would be 400, 500 people spending the night out in the country, and that gave me the idea of how ideal it was to listen to music outside of the normal environment, out in nature. So mulling through all those ideas, just going through those ideas with Artie, we came up with the idea of doing a big festival and bringing everybody together. And we had also talked about building a recording studio in Woodstock, as it just seemed that a remote studio would be a great facility to have in a town where there's so much music being made. And so in looking for funding for both projects, we met John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, and the four of us decided to move forward and produce Woodstock.

Michael_Lang5 karma

And yes, I've been a part of a number of festivals since them. Some in Europe, a festival many years back called "Amsterjam" which was kind of a festival of mashups, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dog played together, there were a number of those mashups during the day, that was a great event. But there have been many shows we've been involved with over the years. And of course, the Woodstock festivals.

MikeKeba1 karma

Back at the 1969 festival some staff wore different coloured shirts. The security staff wore the red shirts that had the "peace" on the front and the Woodstock "dove logo" on the back. What the other coloured staff shirt represent and was there anything on the front of these? Or was the "dove logo" only on the back if these shirts?

Michael_Lang3 karma

The Dove logo was only on the shirts without any other identification, but the colors sort of identified people as being with the stage crew, with security, or technicians or sanitation or whatever the various - and I don't really remember all of them - whatever the various delineations were. It was mostly to identify which crew they were part of.

taylorferreira1 karma

What are your opinions on Altamont?

Michael_Lang5 karma

My opinion of Altamont is that it was a missed opportunity and the result of a lack of planning. it was thrown together at the last minute, it had to move at the last minute, and really wasn't thought throughout. There really wasn't any security, and the Hell's Angels were pressed into a role they weren't suited for. And so what could have been a great day of music degenerated into a horror show.

Keep-reefer-illegal0 karma

How did the clean up go?

Michael_Lang8 karma

The clean up took a while. It took us about a month to do the clean up. we had a lot of volunteers, a lot of kids who stayed behind, a lot of kids who never wanted to leave, in fact! But eventually we got everything put back together.

The crops on the fields the next summer was an interesting one!

blodisnut-1 karma

When will the next ones be? I remember watching most of both fests on TV when they aired on Cable in 94 and 99, and have found solace in watching some of them again on youtube.

Will there be on for the 50th anneversary in 19?

And now that rock is dead(according to Gene Simmons) will most acts be pop as opposed to rock?

Michael_Lang9 karma

There will most likely be a 50th anniversary.

And it will encompass many genres of music, including rock. Rock N' Roll will survive!