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Joel Rosenman (born 1942), conceived and co-created the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Rosenman thought of the idea for the three-day concert when he and business partner John Roberts evaluated a recording studio proposal brought forward by Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld. The four went on to create the event; Rosenman and Roberts are the co-authors of Young Men with Unlimited Capital, also published as Making Woodstock, a non-fiction account of their exploits as producers of Woodstock.
Childhood and education
Born the second of three children, Rosenman grew up on Long Island in the town of Cold Spring Harbor, New York. He attended Huntington High School from 1956 to 1959, graduating at age 16. Rosenman earned a B.A. in English from Princeton in 1963, where he was a member of all-male a cappella group the Princeton Footnotes, and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1966. Throughout college and graduate school, he helped finance his studies by working as a professional musician, both as a solo artist and band member.
Early career and Media Sound
Following graduation from law school, Rosenman continued to perform in the New York City folk music scene of the 1960s, working at a law firm during the day. John Hammond, then head of A&R at Columbia Records, offered him a recording contract in 1967, but Rosenman opted instead for a career in writing and venture capital with friend, and then partner, John Roberts.
In 1967, Rosenman and Roberts drafted the pilot episode of a situation comedy based on two young men looking for investment opportunities. In search of plot material for the series, they placed a classified ad in The New York Times claiming to be "Young men with unlimited capital" looking for "legitimate and interesting...business proposals." Rosenman and Roberts received thousands of responses, including a few which lured them into the field of venture capital as entrepreneurs rather than sitcom writers. The following year, in 1968, they commenced work on the construction of Media Sound Recording Studios, a large-scale recording complex on the west side of Manhattan in New York. A year later, the studios opened to considerable interest in the music world. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, it was the preferred recording location for many of the era's leading artists.
Known for their involvement with Media Sound, Rosenman and Roberts were approached by Michael Lang and Arthur Kornfeld, who initially approached Media Sound for partnership in building a recording studio in upstate New York. Intrigued by a section in their proposal which called for an opening day cocktail party that would invite local artists "like Bob Dylan," Rosenman recast the proposal as a concert instead of a studio. He and Roberts encouraged Lang and Kornfeld to consider the idea, and the four later agreed upon the new direction, forming Woodstock Ventures, Inc. to develop the concert over the ensuing six months. Zoning Board permits issued to Woodstock Ventures authorized a maximum attendance of "50,000," but in August 1969, several million would-be concert-goers clogged the highways and country roads of New York State, trying to get to the concert. Half a million succeeded in reaching the performance area and spent the weekend helping to create the "Woodstock" phenomenon.
Though the 1969 Woodstock Festival earned acclaim and cultural prominence, the overwhelming turnout resulted in unforeseen expenses which left Woodstock Ventures in substantial debt. For more than a decade following the Festival, Rosenman and Roberts worked to repay the losses from the event, eventually tying up those loose ends in the early 1980s.
Rosenman managed an investment fund, Source Financing Investors. The fund advanced Democratic Party fundraiser Norman Hsu's company, Components Ltd., $40 million, money which Rosenman later reported to be missing. Hsu pleaded guilty to counterfeiting documents and defrauding Rosenman and other investors out of their investments.
In the 2009 film Taking Woodstock Rosenman is portrayed by Daniel Eric Gold.
- Fox News $40 Million Borrowed by Dirty Democratic Fundraiser Norman Hsu is Missing Retrieved on 12 September 2007
- Hsu Pleads Guilty
- Hippie By Barry Miles (page 321) Published 2005 Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
- Rosenman's investment company loses $40 million
- Hsu Pleads Guilty
- Rosenman, Joel. Young Men With Unlimited Capital: The Story of Woodstock. Scrivenery Press, 1999. ISBN 978-1-893818-02-6.