Woodstock festival Bert Sommer
Remembering and appreciating
February 7, 1949 – July 23, 1990
Bert Sommer and his music were part of the 60s in many ways. He wrote songs for the Vagrants who later morphed into Mountain.
Bert Sommer became a part of the pop successful Left Banke and sang lead on their “And Suddenly.”
He had a part in the west coast production of Hair. In fact his hair graced the Playbill cover.
Artie Kornfeld, a Capital Records executive, and later one of the four organizers of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, noticed Sommer’s songwriting and produced his first album, The Road To Travel for Capital.
And the connection with Kornfeld obviously helped get him an invitation to Woodstock.
Unfortunately, Bert Sommer never received one of that famous festival’s golden eggs, as Santana had for example.
Why he didn’t ride Woodstock’s coattails is likely due what label he recorded for and what label produced the Woodstock album. His was Capital. Its was Warner Brothers. And Bert Sommer did not make it onto the three-disc Woodstock album.
Neither did he appear in the movie.
Woodstock Festival Bert Sommer
According to the Bertsommer.com site: Artie [Kornfeld] said “When Bert came up to perform at Woodstock, it was special because he was dear to me. I was a little nervous because I wanted him to do well. I was proud watching Bert. I got busy and went backstage and hung out to be closer to Bert and his band, which included Ira Stone (electric guitar), Charlie Bilello (bass), Ira’s wife Max…. When Bert finished his performance of Paul Simon’s “America” it was simply electrifying. Paul Simon later said that Bert’s rendition on record that I produced, was better than Simon & Garfunkel’s. I’ve been told that this performance was the only standing ovation at Woodstock. Shame on the powers that kept Bert out of the movie.“
From the same site: Mr. Sommer settled in Albany, N.Y., where he played in local bands, his voice still strong, according to Mr. Kahn. Health failing, he died in June 1990, 12 days after a final performance in Troy, N.Y., about a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Bethel. A year earlier, a special edition of Life magazine commemorating the 20th anniversary of the festival included a cropped photo of Mr. Stone and his wife Maxine. As if deemed irrelevant, Mr. Sommer was cut out of the picture.
Reference >>> 2009 Wall St Journal article