Personality-packed oral history of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, with an emphasis on the event's movers and...

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WOODSTOCK: The Oral History

Personality-packed oral history of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, with an emphasis on the event's movers and shakers. Makower, a journalist and book packager, stays in the background here, contributing only a restrained preface and letting the dozens of festival alumni he tracked down speak for their lively selves. Leading off are four rank-and-file Woodstockers who recall the shock of the festival (""It was a very, very moving and powerful time,"" says one). More in tune with the backstage slant here, however, are the next speakers, the festival's organizers, including investors Joel Rosenman and John Roberts; hippie/guru Michael Lang; and business brain Artie Kornfield, then V.P. of Capitol Records (who says, ""I think it was the days of hash, and I might have been standing on my desk at Capitol when [Michael] walked in. . .he had great Colombian and we started to talk""). Woodstock, they remind us, began as a profit-seeking venture, and remained so (the musicians were paid $15,000 each) during the months of preparations--detailed here most memorably by head Hog Farmer Wavy Gravy, and Wes Pomeroy, former ""Nixon administration cop"" named the festival's head of security and, years later, police chief of Berkeley, Cal. Finally come memories of the controlled chaos of the festival itself: music, mud, drugs, and ecstasy, remembered fondly and with wonder in vivid flashes by very many--e.g., Abbie Hoffman, Miriam Yasgur (widow of Max Yasgur, on whose land it all happened), and musicians Paul Kantner and Richie Havens (""I actually was afraid to go on first. . .I didn't want to be trampled by a billion people""). More levelheaded--and less enchanting--than Jack Curry's rhapsodic Woodstock (p. 431); but the many insider-tales here are fascinating, and the 150 photographs put this over the top as the Woodstock history of record.

Pub Date: July 26, 1989

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1989