Woodstock creator Michael Lang dead at 77 – Promoter behind iconic festival dies after fight with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
MICHAEL Lang, the co-creator and organizer of the famous Woodstock music festival in 1969 has died at the age of 77.
He passed away at Sloan Kettering in New York City after losing his battle with a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a family spokesperson Michael Pagnotta.
Raised in Brooklyn Michael Lang attended college in New York City before moving into concert promotion in the late 1960.
His first major event he organized was the 1968 Miami Pop Festival where the line-up included Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and John Lee Hooker.
He developed plans for a much more ambitious three-day festival after he moved to Woodstock, New York.
Along with co-founders John Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and John P Roberts, Lang drew up plans for a music festival for around 400,000 fans at a farm in Bethel.
At the time the US was in a state of social change with the impact of the hippie movement and a growing disillusionment with the war in Vietnam with thousands of people losing their lives in Southeast Asia.
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The festival was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music” and included some of the biggest music names at the time – Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Who and Sly and the Family Stone, among many others.
The festival exceeded all expectations with hundreds of thousands of people making their way to the site, causing roads to become blocked as they abandoned their cars to get to the site.
Due to the numbers, as well as the consumption of mind-altering drugs, the festival was plagued by a number of issues and problems, not helped by the weather.
Despite the problems though the event has gone down as a seminal cultural moment marking the 1960s.
To cash in on the event a soundtrack album and documentary film were released the following year.
The event has also been immortalized in song, most notably Crosby, Stills Nash and Young’s Woodstock from their acclaimed 1970 album Déjà vu.
The enduring significance of the original event allowed Land to stage two anniversary show.
The first, in 1994, marked its 25th anniversary in Saugerties, NY, and became known as Mudstock after the second and third days were marked by rainstorms, turning the field into a large mud bath.
The other, Woodstock ’99, which drew an audience of 400,000 to the site, was marred by violence and vandalism, far from the original message of peace and love.
Lang had hoped to organize another festival in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary but was beset by problems and the financial backers ultimately pulled their support, leaving Lang to abandon his plans.
Lang is survived by his wife Tamara, their sons Harry and Laszlo, and his daughters LariAnn, Shala and Molly.
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