Woodstock:

How it Happened (and Why It Almost Didn’t)

William McKeen / Boston University

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Imagine this: suddenly, you find out that a half million people are visiting this weekend. What will you serve? It wasn’t quite that way for the organizers of the Woodstock Festival in 1969, but it was close. The organizers planned for a crowd … but they never expected those kinds of numbers.  This talk is about the behind-the-scenes machinations of putting the thing together against horrifying odds. For the organizers, this was an event along the lines of a community-involved art installation by the French artist, Christo. When Christo involved people in sharing a vision and a project, they discovered a journey more vital than a destination: the art was in the doing.  We will also talk about the music, of course, and the abject fear the musicians felt with an audience that large.

William McKeen

Boston University

William McKeen is the Chair of the Department of Journalism at Boston University, where he also teaches media history, literary journalism, and rock ‘n’ roll history.  He is the author or editor of 13 books, including Everybody Had an OceanToo Old to Die Young and Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.  

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