Michael Lang, legendary co-creator of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair passed away. He was 77.
Lang passed away the night of Saturday (Jan. 8.) due to a rare form that is known as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma located at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City. The rep for Lang and his family acquaintance Michael Pagnotta confirmed the news to the Daily Reuters
Lang worked with his colleagues Joel Rosenman, Capitol Records’ Artie Kornfeld and John P. Roberts for the 1969 festival that was held on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre milking ranch in Bethel, New York. The three-day festival featured icons like Richie Havens, Santana, Janis Joplin as well as The Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone and The Who, among others.
“I booked the three hottest bands at the time — Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat and Credence Clearwater Revival,” Lang stated to the magazinein 2019. “That brought us instant credibility and word spread and the rock was falling downhill. Then we began adding bands to the left and right. I can remember the moment the day that David Geffen walked into our office to play a sample recording that included Crosby, Stills and Nash. He placed on the turntable, and struck a deal immediately. Similar to Joe Cocker. We heard his voice , and we booked him very quickly.”
Following Woodstock, Lang started a record company in 1971 named Just Sunshine Records, which initially was signed by Karen Dalton followed by Billy Joel. Lang then moved into management, working mostly with Cocker for around 15 years. The year 1994 was the first time he worked to in promoting the 25th anniversary of Woodstock with Woodstock 1994. In the year 2019, Lang was planning to stage Woodstock 50 — which he revealed , he was making plans for the past two years — featuring the lineup of Miley Cyrus, Dead & Company Jay-Z, and many more. The concert was ultimately scrapped due to a myriad of production and permit issues as well as venue changes and artists withdrawing.
Three years prior to co-creating original Woodstock in 1969, Lang had opened his first venture, an upscale Head shop located within Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. Lang said that it was “the unofficial headquarters of the underground counterculture,” prior to saying to Billboardthat David Crosby and Joni Mitchell frequently visited. “It was becoming a bit famous, and sort of old. I decided it was the right time to relocate back in New York. I was awed by living in a small , creative town. I had heard of Woodstock as I was there as a youngster and it was a huge music scene , with wild artists and bacchanals straight from The Midsummer Night’s Dream..”
“In 1969, people came to have three days of peace and music and to experience community,” said he continued. “That what’s made it made it so special … The one thing that people have always said to me when they approached me about how Woodstock changed their life was that it changed how they related to other people.”
Lang remains with his spouse Tamara Lang, the couple’s brothers Harry and Laszlo as well as his daughters LariAnn, Shala and Molly.