Michael Lang, one of the co-creators of the legendary Woodstock Music & Arts festival series, died at age 77 of a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, according to his publicist.
In 1967, Lang dropped out of New York University and headed to Miami. There, he ran a toilet shop and promoted a series of concerts. including the 1968 Miami Pop Festival, which drew 25,000 attendees and saw performances by Jimi Hendriz, Frank Zappa, John Lee Hooker and more. .
He moved to Woodstock, New York and met Artie Korfeld, brainstorming the idea of a massive music festival celebrating culture. That led to Woodstock, which was held at Max Yasguar’s farm in the Bethel, New York area from August 15-18, 1969. The show drew the cream of the crop from musicians of that era, but was was overwhelmed by the large number of attendees, estimated at 400,000. The traffic stopped and eventually the producers decided to turn it into a free festival.
Lang appeared in many scenes from the 1970 documentary, Woodstock: 3 days of peace and music.
Woodstock’s greatest cultural impact was revived in the 1990s in the 1994 and 1990 editions, with major concert promoter John Scher on board. The final Woodstock celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019 with a three-day event that featured performances by Santana and John Fogerty.
In addition to his concert activities, Lang owned and operated Just Sunshine Records, a label that produced more than 40 albums by artists ranging from Karen Dalton to Mississippi Fred McDowell. He also directed artists such as Joe Cocker, Rickie Lee Jones, and Willie DeVille.
Lang is survived by his wife Tamara, sons Harry and Laszlo, and daughters LariAnn, Shala, and Molly.