1969 revisited: all you need is a cool dollars 135

Rupert Cornwell@IndyVoices
Wednesday 27 July 1994 23:02

PEACE, love and brotherhood will prevail in upstate New York next month, after settlement of a feud between rival concert organisers which threatened to derail the 25th anniversary celebrations of the legendary rock festival known as Woodstock.

The problem was all in the name. The Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, to use its full title, of 15-17 August, 1969, was to have been held near the artists' colony of Woodstock in the foothills of the Catskills mountains, where summer festivals had been held since 1915. But no site was big enough for the 1969 version. Eventually it took place near Bethel, 75 miles to the south- west. The rest, as they say, was history - until this year.

The silver anniversary of the defining moment of the 1960s counter-culture was obviously far too big to ignore. Equally predictably, two contenders entered the lists, each claiming the magical Woodstock name. One was 'Woodstock 94' with the legal rights to the title and whose mega- show featuring Bob Dylan, Soul Asylum and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is scheduled for 12-14 August at the small town of Saugerties near Woodstock, where the 1969 carnival was intended.

The other production, more modest but featuring Richie Havens, Melanie and other performers from a quarter of a century ago, will take place at Bethel. Not unreasonably, it too, called itself Woodstock - at least, until yesterday. Faced with a dollars 20m ( pounds 13m) lawsuit from Woodstock 94, the Bethel organisers have agreed to drop all reference to the original and to call themselves simply 'Bethel 94'. Their leader, Sidney Bernstein, now promises 'a festival of civility and love'.

Woodstock 1969 was a rain- sodden, drug-drenched romp, where tickets cost dollars 8 but few of the half million who turned up bothered to pay.

'Woodstock 94' will cost dollars 30m but attract only 250,000 at best. There will be automatic cash machines plus a special cellular phone network for yuppies to keep up with Wall Street. Tickets are dollars 135 each. But the organisers say they will only break even through franchising, movie rights, and pay-per-view television at dollars 35 a time.

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