Jay-Z drops out of embattled Woodstock 50 anniversary festival

The news comes amid reports that the troubled event had switched venues to an amphitheater in Maryland.
Image: Jay-Z
Jay-Z makes an announcement of the launch of Dream Chasers record label in joint venture with Roc Nation on July 23, 2019, in New York.Greg Allen / AP

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By Daniel Arkin

Jay-Z has decided not to perform at Woodstock's 50th anniversary festival just weeks before the troubled event was scheduled to take place, a source close to the hip-hop mogul confirmed Friday.

The artist had been set to close out the three-day event, slated to take place Aug. 16-18 — 50 years after the original celebration of "Peace, Love and Music."

The news comes amid reports that the revival — plagued by a series of behind-the-scenes money headaches and legal setbacks — would be switching venues for a second time, moving from a horse racing track in upstate New York to an outdoor amphitheater in Maryland.

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Bloomberg reported Thursday that Woodstock 50 will now take place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. A representative for the event's leading organizer, Michael Lang, told NBC News she would not confirm or comment on that report.

The new venue, more than 250 miles from the original location, is expected to fit about 32,000 people, according to Bloomberg. The outlet reported that artists who had agreed to play the event were under no obligation to appear at the new venue.

The last-minute venue change appeared to keep Woodstock 50 from collapsing. In recent months, the festival lost its financial backer, key producing partners, crucial permits, and two venues. As of this writing, tickets have not even been put up for sale.

The event was envisioned as a cross-generational gathering that would bring together millennials and nostalgic Baby Boomers. Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, The Killers and Chance the Rapper joined the lineup, alongside Flower Power-era favorites such as Santana.

It was not immediately clear if the other marquee names on the lineup, such as Miley Cyrus, had also decided to pull out.

The Associated Press reported Friday that John Fogerty, who performed at the inaugural festival with Creedence Clearwater Revival, had dropped out of Woodstock 50 and would instead perform at a smaller anniversary celebration at the original site in Bethel, New York, that is not connected to Lang's team.

The original Woodstock, a counterculture landmark that became synonymous with the hippie movement and free-love spirit of the late 1960s, was also dogged by logistical headaches, including a similar last-minute venue change.