Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang has passed away at the age of 77.
Lang passed away at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. According to a spokesperson for his family, Lang passed away from a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Lang leaves behind his wife, Tamara. He had three daughters, LariAnn, Shala, and Molly. He also had two sons: Harry and Laszlo.
Lang was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended New York University for a brief time before he eventually moved to Florida. Lang came up with the idea for Woodstock after planning the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, which featured Jimi Hendrix as the main entertainer.
Lang Co-Founded One Of The Most Iconic Music Festivals In History
RIP Michael Lang, the hustlin’ kid who pulled off Woodstock against all odds. pic.twitter.com/4xYnXJ4PMD
— Bill Weir (@BillWeirCNN) January 9, 2022
Lang may go down in history for his role in co-founding and promoting the famous Woodstock Music and Art Fair. He planned the historical festival along with partners Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts in 1969.
The festival was held on Max Yasgur‘s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, and lasted for four days, from August 15 to August 18th. More than 400,000 people attended the iconic festival, which was headlined by bands and artists such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who.
In his 2009 book, “The Road to Woodstock,” Lang recalled struggling through inclement weather conditions, venue changes, and far more attendees than they had initially expected to host.
We join those mourning the passing of Michael Lang. Lang was only 24 when he helped dream up Woodstock, three days of peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll. It was a significant moment in music history and a defining event for the counterculture generation. Fare Thee Well… pic.twitter.com/1MHwdeutnY
— Garcia’s at The Cap⚡️🌹💀 (@GarciasAtTheCap) January 9, 2022
“Woodstock was a test of whether people of our generation really believed in one another and the world we were struggling to create,” Lang wrote. “How would we do when we were in charge? Could we live as the peaceful community we envisioned? I’d hoped we could.”
In an interview with Billboard that same year, Lang revealed that he was “amazed at the effect music had on the kids. I went from John Lee Hooker to Jimi Hendrix, and they loved it all… and looking at their faces and the way music sort of transformed them really started me in that direction.”
Lang Continued The Legacy Of Woodstock Into His Later Years
Rest In Peace, Michael Lang, visionary behind the Woodstock Festival. This impromptu pic was taken in front of Bread Alone on Tinker Street in the town of Woodstock just as Michael’s plans for Woodstock 50 were falling apart. I like to think we lifted his spirits a bit that day. pic.twitter.com/1Az3aMe2XP
— Shakedown Gallery 𓂀 (@shakedownart) January 9, 2022
In addition to the original festival, Lang also helped promote Woodstock ’94 and Wockstock ’99. However, Woodstock ’99 failed to live up to the reputation set by its predecessor. The three-day concert was held in Rome, New York. Many have criticized the reports of violence and sexual assault that were reported at the festival.
There was a documentary based on the initial festival in 1970, titled, “Woodstock: 3 Days Of Peace & Music.” Lang is heavily featured in scenes throughout much of the documentary.
In 2009, Ang Lee’s film “Taking Woodstock” attempted to recreate the true story of the creation of the music festival. Based on the memoir “Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life” by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte, the film premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews.
Michael Lang, the driving force behind the staging of the 1969 Woodstock festival, who changed the trajectory of rock music and the live music experience while hosting a half million people for the 1960s counterculture’s milestone moment, has passed away. He was only 77. pic.twitter.com/OJbmFnYvTb
— Vintage Los Angeles (@alisonmartino) January 9, 2022
Lang, who was portrayed in the film by “Hamilton” actor Jonathan Groff, disputed the film’s factual accuracy, saying that it skews his initial meeting with Max Yasgur. Lang says he met Max through a real estate salesman. Max’s son, Sam Yasgur, agrees with Lang’s version of events.
In 2019, Lang was planning to honor the anniversary of Woodstock with a Woodstock 50 Festival that would have included performers like Chance the Rapper and Carlos Santana. However, the concert was canceled due to financial setbacks.
In an interview with Pollstar that same year, Woodstock reflected on the history of Woodstock, saying, “Woodstock offered an environment for people to express their better selves, if you will. It was probably the most peaceful event of its kind in history. That was because of expectations and what people wanted to create there.”
In addition to Woodstock, Lang owned and operated a record label called Just Sunshine Records. The record label has produced more than forty albums by artists including Karen Dalton and Mississippi Fred McDowell.