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The (Kind Of) Complete Woodstock: The Rather Magnificent Mr. Bert Sommer

April 9, 2013

“Bert Sommer is the whole reason that I wrote this series. How this guy vanished is beyond me.” – James Stafford

Why It Matters

Friday August 15, 1969, Bethel, New York.  Artie Kornfeld checks his watch, ten minutes to five o’clock.  A crowd of three hundred thousand kids has congregated in a rented dairy pasture for three days of music.  They mill about, waiting for something to happen, waiting to get it started.

Artie turns to his friend, who also happens to be the latest act that he is producing.  You gotta get out there, man.

No way, Artie, the kid says in his thick Long Island accent.  I ain’t going out there.

Why not, man?

There’s, like, three hundred thousand people out there, man. That’s too heavy.

No man, it’s going to be beautiful.

The two go back and forth, the crowd growing more and more restless.  Finally Richie Havens steps in.  I’ll go, he says.  At 5:07 Havens hits the stage and remains there for three hours, filling time while…

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