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Woodstock ’69, a beacon of love, peace and music during the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War, has gone down in history as a symbol of unity. Fast forward 30 years, Woodstock ’99 played out in stark contrast, marred by sexual assaults, violence and even deaths (as reported by Esquire). It is a dark chapter in the history of music festivals.

Woodstock ’99: Unraveling

From July 22 to 25, 1999, Griffis Air Force Base in Rome, New York hosted Woodstock ’99. The event featured two main stages and several smaller ones for performers. With tickets priced at $150, attendees struggled with exorbitant costs for basic amenities, like $4 for water and juice and a whopping $12 for a slice of pizza. Adverse weather conditions, high humidity and a lack of portable toilets set the stage for disaster from the start.

The man behind the festival: John Scher

John Scher’s journey into the world of entertainment took an unconventional path. After dropping out of college after realizing his part-time gig as a promoter was more lucrative, Scher carved out a niche for himself in the industry. For 18 years he managed the Capitol Theater in New Jersey, gaining a reputation as a great promoter. Reflecting on his trajectory, Scher noted, “I became the youngest major promoter and stayed that way for 20 years,” which he shared with NJ.

Coping with Consequences: Controversies and Conflicts

As one of the masterminds behind Woodstock ’99, Scher found himself at the center of a storm of controversy after the festival. Participants pointed the finger at the skyrocketing prices of basic necessities, inadequate security and lack of toilets, which contributed to the chaos and unrest. In response, Scher argued that the extreme actions, including looting, arson and assaults, were the result of individuals who were “deranged.” Disputing that such incidents stemmed from a price difference of just $0.50, he emphasized that to MTV. In 2022, Netflix premiered the documentary “Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99,” which offers insights from attendees and performers, shedding light on the intricate set-up orchestrated by the organizers.

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