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Music

This time it’s for real: Woodstock 50 has been canceled

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Hundreds of departing music fans jam the highway leading to Bethel, N.Y., after spending a rainy 1969 night at Woodstock. The 50th anniversary concert has been canceled.
(Associated Press)

This time it’s for real: Woodstock 50 has been canceled.

The embattled music festival, promoted as a 50th anniversary concert commemorating the seminal baby boomer gathering, has ceased efforts to stage the event, three months after its main backer pulled funding and declared it dead.

The proposed festival, spearheaded by original Woodstock promoter Michael Lang, had promised to revisit the “three days of peace, love and music” spectacle with a bill that was to include Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, the Black Keys, Dead & Company and a bevy of musicians, including John Fogerty, John Sebastian and Santana, who appeared at the original festival.

Wrote Lang in a statement: “We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the festival we imagined with the great lineup we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating.” He added that when Woodstock 50 didn’t get permitted at two potential New York sites, “we looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel.”

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But even the good was not to be. Since financial backer Dentsu Aegis, a Japanese marketing corporation, pulled funding in late April, news of Woodstock 50’s possible demise ruled music business conversations, often used in the same sentence as failed destination concert the Fyre Festival. The drama also brought back memories of Woodstock ’99, which ended in violence.

With booking agents and managers balking at the hurdles facing Lang’s project, by the time he conceded defeat, many of the festival’s major acts had already publicly announced their intention to skip it.

Those pining to party for Woodstock’s 50th anniversary still have at least one option: The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, N.Y., has booked a series of Woodstock-era musicians for the weekend of Aug. 16-18: Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band (Fri.), Santana (Sat.) and John Fogerty (Sunday).


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