- 10 Jan 22
Lang died on Saturday (January 8th) in New York City.
Woodstock co-creator and organiser Michael Lang died aged 77 on Saturday (January 8th) in New York City.
Michael Pagnotta — a longtime family friend and Lang’s representative — told Rolling Stone that Lang died of a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Sloan Kettering hospital, New York.
The concert promoter was born in Brooklyn in 1944 and attended New York University before he dropped out. He set up a head shop in Coconut Grove, Florida in 1967. In 1968, Lang organised the Miami Pop festival along with Richard O’Barry. The festival featured Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Frank Zappa and John Lee Hooker.
Lang was 24 years old when he envisioned Woodstock along with co-founders Artie Kornfeld, John Rosenman, and John P. Roberts. The “Three Days of Peace and Music” attracted over 400,000 attendees to Max Yasgur’s farm in New York between August 15–18.
The festival featured a plethora of music icons including Janis Joplin, the Who, John Baez, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix — who played a historic version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner — Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival and more.
Carlos Santana had his breakthrough moment with a LSD-inspired performance which was one of the highlights of the festival.
Lang tried to recapture the legendary spirit of the festival on two occasions after the original event. In 1994 he organised the 25th anniversary of the festival with performances from The Cranberries, Nine Inch Nails, Carlos Santana, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Joe Cocker, Green Day, Primus, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The anniversary edition of the festival became known as “Mudstock” after rainfall flooded the festivals on days 2 and 3. The ‘99 iteration of the festival was even more disastrous as violence, water scarcity and overcrowding combined to make for a dangerous event.
Lang announced the plans for a 50th anniversary edition of the festival in 2019 which featured a star-studded line up including JAY-Z, Dead & Co., Chance the Rapper, the Black Keys, Sturgill Simpson, the Raconteurs, the Killers, Run the Jewels, Janelle Monáe, Santana, Earl Sweatshirt, and more
A number of issues including problems acquiring permits, exiting investors and artists and a venue change led to the cancellation of the event in July 2019.
Lang also owned and ran Just Sunshine Records which released work by Betty Davis, Karen Dalton and Mississippi Fred McDowel. He also managed Joe Cocker, Ricky Lee Jones and more. Lang shared a book in 2009 plotting his journey from Brooklyn to pioneering one of the greatest festivals ever organised.