Organisers have cancelled the 50th anniversary event of the iconic 1969 festival a mere two weeks before it was scheduled to begin.
Since Woodstock 50’s announcement in January, as an official celebration of the original Woodstock festival, the event has been blighted by financial troubles and health and safety concerns.
Even before the event was announced it was facing issues, having been denied permission to host the celebrations at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts – the original Woodstock site in Bethel, New York. Michael Lang, the face of Woodstock 50 and a co-producer of the first Woodstock in 1969, expressed disappointment but said the festival would instead take place at nearby Watkins Glen.
In March, an impressive lineup was announced, featuring popular artists such as JAY-Z, the Killers, The Black Keys and Imagine Dragons. It was also around this time that rumours of financial troubles started circulating. Organisers maintained that tickets would go on sale 22 April, to coincide with Earth Day.
That date came and went, with the only information on the official website that tickets would be available ‘soon’.
A week later, the Dentsu Aegis Network – one of the biggest investors in the event – announced time of death. A statement to Billboard attributed the sudden cancellation to concerns surrounding ‘the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees’ as well as troubles hosting ‘an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name’.
Despite this statement, Lang and other organisers denied the festival’s cancellation, stating to Pitchfork:
‘The bottom line is, there is going to be a Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival, as there must be, and it’s going to be a blast.’
After a court battle with Dentsu, the festival found new backers in May. The following month the festival lost Watkins Glen, its New York venue, and announced that the concert would be taking place in Maryland instead.
By this time, artists were pulling out, tickets still hadn’t officially gone on sale, and there were even some rumours in Maryland that entry to the festival would be free.
It finally became clear to the organisers that the festival couldn’t go ahead. In a statement on the 31 July, Lang blamed a ‘series of unforeseen setbacks’.