Michael Lang, the creator and co-promoter of Woodstock died Saturday night at Sloan Kettering hospital in New York City from a a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 77.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Lang dropped out of New York University in 1967 and and moved to Coconut Grove, Florida where he opened a head shop. In 1968, after promoting numerous concerts in the Miami area, he co-produced the Pop & Underground Festival. On May 18th, 25,000 people gathered to watch Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Arthur Brown, and Blue Cheer. Rain scrapped the second day on May 19th.
In 1969, Lang moved to Woodstock, New York and that’s where he conceived the idea for what became music’s most famous festival.
Originally slated to for Wallkill, New York, it was eventually held 50 miles away on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York.
An estimated 500,000 came together on August 15th, 16th and 17th, 1969 for the festival, which was billed as “Three Days of Peace and Music,” to see The Who, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Band, The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker and many others.
Following Woodstock, Lang managed Joe Cocker and Rickie Lee Jones, as well as co-promoting Woodstock ’94 and ’99. His attempt to stage a 50th anniversary festival in 2019 never came to fruition.
Lang, who leaves behind his wife and five children, published his book, The Road to Woodstock, in 2010.