Michael Lang, Woodstock Festival Co-creator, Dies at 77



Michael Lang, the co-creator and promoter of the 1969 Woodstock music festival that has been a hallmark for generations of music fans, has passed away.

Michael Pagnotta, a spokesman for the Lang family, said Sunday the 77-year-old had been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and died Saturday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

“He is absolutely a historical figure, and also a wonderful man,” Pagnotta, who said he has known Lang for about 30 years, told The Associated Press. “Both of those things go hand in hand.”

Together with partners Artie Kornfeld, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, Lang incorporated what has been called “three days of peace and music” in the summer of 1969. The Vietnam War broke out and made more and more young people Disgruntled Americans turned their backs on each other. more traditional and embrace a lifestyle that honors free speech.

About 400,000 people flocked to Bethel village, about 50 miles northwest of New York City, and endured miles of traffic jams, torrential rains, food shortages, and overcrowding of sanitation facilities. More than 30 acts performed on the concert’s main stage at the foothills of farmland owned by farmer Max Yasgur, and concert-goers watched iconic performances by artists including including Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, The Who and Jefferson Airplane.

Lang, whose head is covered with bushy brown hair, is seen throughout Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 documentary documenting the history of the festival.

“From the very beginning, I believed that if we do our job right and from the heart, prepare the base and set the right tone, people will express themselves higher and create something wonderful,” Lang wrote in his memoir, “The Road to Woodstock. ”

Lang and others managed to put on a concert in 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock. However, the attempt was ultimately aborted due to financial problems and difficulty securing a venue. In an interview with the AP at the time, Lang called the experience “a really weird ride” and said he still hopes to hold concerts in the future.

While Woodstock is often credited with setting the stage for large-scale music festivals, this isn’t the first time it has taken place in the United States. The Monterey Pop Festival had drawn about 200,000 people to California two years earlier. And in 1968, the next Miami Pop Festival, Lang also hosted. But Woodstock nonetheless holds an indelible place in history.

“A lot of them are modeled after Woodstock – Bonnaroo, and especially Coachella,” Lang said of the other festivals in a 2009 interview. “There is a ritual that was created and continues to be replicated. wide.”

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