John Fogerty found out there may not be a Woodstock 50 at the same time most people did — when Dentsu, the financial backer for the festival, announced on Monday that they were canceling the event. (Woodstock 50 LLC denied the shutdown, saying in a statement Monday night that they are “committed to ensuring that the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock is marked with a festival deserving of its iconic name and place in American history and culture.”
“I wouldn’t want to speculate,” Fogerty says of the festival. “I’m just a guy who plays guitar and is ready to show up. It’s not my job to know about the selection of artists or permits. But it’s a shame.”
At the same time, Fogerty, who attended a press conference announcing the event last month, admits there were a few ominous signs leading up to Dentsu’s announcement. “They postponed announcing the tickets, and I remember reading a while ago that they didn’t have some of the permits,” he says. “That just blew my mind. You’d think it would be the first thing you’d do and not the last thing. You got the sense there was some shakiness to this whole thing. But the first Woodstock happened more by people wishing for it to happen than any effort of great organization.”
The gig wouldn’t have been Fogerty’s first Woodstock. He and Creedence Clearwater Revival played the original 1969 event, even though they weren’t included in the movie or the original soundtrack album. For Woodstock 50, Fogerty was planning to recreate the 11-song set he had played at the first festival, even using the same Rickenbacker guitar he played that night; his wife Julie tracked it down from a collector and gave it to her husband as a Christmas present in 2016.
Fogerty is still irked by the fact that at the original Woodstock, the Grateful Dead played so long that Creedence weren’t able to take the stage until hours after they were supposed to play — resulting in the group performing before a sleepy crowd. But Dead & Company, the current post-Jerry Garcia offshoot, were also slated to play Woodstock 50, and, Fogerty says, “I was actually looking forward to seeing those guys.” He says he’s still committed to playing an August 18th concert at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on the grounds of the original festival. (Woodstock 50 was scheduled to take place in Watkins Glen, north of Woodstock.)
Like many (and possibly all) of the artists who had signed up, Fogerty says he was paid in advance “as far as I know.” But if the festival is indeed off, he says he will donate his fee to what he calls “my favorite cause”: military veterans: “I’m from old-fashioned America. I hate to be paid for doing nothing. So I would imagine donating it to a good cause. That would be the best use of the funds.”
Still, part of Fogerty wishes the festival was still proceeding. “I was looking forward to seeing how it would get reworked 50 years later,” he says. “What the young people would think about it and what the younger artists would think. It’s not every day you get to go back to a 50-year reunion.”
With a chuckle, he adds, “For Woodstock 75, we can all still get together and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ They should start working on getting the permits right now.”