Michael Lang, a co-founder of the famous Woodstock Festival, has died at the age of 77.
A family spokesman said Lang died Saturday (Jan. 8) from a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Lang was one of the chief architects at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Held over four days in August on a family farm in Bethel, New York, the festival welcomed nearly half a million attendees to watch performances from Jimi Hendrix, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, The Band, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who, Santana, and more. With a huge amount of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the festivals became a symbol of late 60s contraception, while also launching a career in the countless future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.
Due to the success of Woodstock, The Rolling Stones enlisted Lang at the last minute to help move a free concert they had planned to San Francisco in 1969. After the city revoked permission for the concert to take place at Golden Gate Park, The Stones moved the show to Altamont Speedway. Unfortunately, due to the logistical challenges posed at Altamont Speedway, the proximity to the stage by people led to a chaotic scene only exacerbated by the presence of Hell’s Angels, who were hired to work security. Several fights took place during the course of the concert, and an audience member named Meredith Hunter was stabbed and killed when she rushed to the stage with a gun while performing The Rolling Stones. The tragic events in Altamont had an immediate impact on the nation’s past celebration of the festival, as the promoters were met with strong legal and community opposition to their proposed activities.
Instead of doing a big event, Lang focused his efforts on managing artists like Joe Cocker and Rickie Lee Jones. He also formed a record label called Just Sunshine Records and released music from Karen Dalton, Betty Davis and Mississippi Fred McDowell.
However, in 1994 Lang revived the Woodstock brand to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original festival. Taking place over three days in August in Saugerties, New York, Woodstock ’94 featured performances from Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Bob Dylan, and Peter Gabriel, as well as many actions from Woodstock ’69. Although only 164,000 tickets had already been sold, half a million people attended the festival, resulting in numerous logistical and security challenges. Heavy rain also turned mud on the ground, leading to mud pits and attendees throwing mud at the performing artists while on stage.
Lang’s second Woodstock revival held in 1999 proved to be more turbulent. Excessive heat, high price concessions, lack of bathroom facilities, and long distances between stages led to violent scenes throughout the week, including several fires that started within the crowd. of mankind. There have also been numerous reports of sexual assault, and one person has died after collapsing in a mosh pit. The events of Woodstock ’99 were recently recorded by a HBO documentary.
Lang attempted a final revival of Woodstock in 2019 to commemorate its 50th anniversary. But afterwards running on financing issues, those plans were postponed, and eventually canceled in the emergency of the coronavirus pandemic.