NEW YORK CITY (CelebrityAccess) – Michael Lang, the co-creator of 1969’s Woodstock Festival, and its follow-ups, Woodstock 94’, and the doomed Woodstock 99′, passed Sunday, January 8 in New York City. The cause of death was a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, confirmed via Lang spokesperson, Michael Pagnotta, to numerous media outlets.
Lang was Brooklyn born and raised, attending college in the city, never finishing and entered concert promotion work in the 1960’s. After a move to Woodstock, NY, the three-day festival planning began and took place August 15-18, 1969, on Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel with over 400,000 in attendance.
The festival arrived a year after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Robert F. Kennedy, as unrest and opposition to Vietnam and those opposing found their voice. The festival, by all accounts, became a haven for the hippie movement as people swayed to the music and together, consumed a lot of drugs. Icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Santana, The Who, John B. Sebastian and Janis Joplin among many others. Sebastian, founding member of the band Lovin’ Spoonful and Woodstock performer, provided this insight on Lang to CelebrityAccess upon news of his passing.
“I was standing next to Mike Lange when he changed our world. It was a day into the Woodstock Festival. We were standing on that semi-built stage watching a young messenger approach at a fast trot. ‘The fence is down and folks are pouring in,’ he yelled.” “We all turned to Michael. Mike stared off into the middle distance for a long breath…then, that mischievous – almost fatalistic smile – ’gentlemen…I think what we have here is a free festival.’” ~ John Sebastian on Michael Lang’s passing 1.9.2022
Woodstock became an American cultural phenomenon and is revered and celebrated even today. Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center now occupies a portion of that original site and pays homage with a museum dedicated to the 1969 festival.
During his music industry career, Lang managed artists like Rickie Lee Jones and Joe Cocker, created Just Sunshine Records and in 2015, opened a music school for college-aged students in the town of Woodstock. May his legacy live on.
Lang is survived by his wife Tamara, two sons, Harry, and Laszlo and three daughters, Shala, Molly and LariAnn.