Woodstock festival co-founder Michael Lang died on Saturday after battling a rare form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 77. The new was confirmed to Deadline via family spokesperson Michael Pagnotta.
Born in Brooklyn in 1944, Lang got into concert promotion after dropping out of college in New York City. He put on the 1968 Miami Pop Festival, which included The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Mothers of Invention, Blue Cheer, John Lee Hooker and more. He then moved to Woodstock, NY which is where he met Artie Kornfeld, and the two of them developed the idea for a music festival there that would incorporate the social movements of the time. The Woodstock Music and Art Fair place at Max Yasguar’s farm in Bethel, New York from August 15 to 18, 1969 and featured performances by Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Crosby Still, Nash & Young, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Santana, The Who, Jefferson Airplane and more. Drawing over 400,000 attendees, the festival became a cultural landmark and was captured in the documentary Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music.
Lang brought Woodstock back in 1994 at Winston Farm near Saugerties, New York, with original festival acts like Joe Cocker, Crosby Still & Nash, and Country Joe McDonald and others performing alongside newer acts like Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Spin Doctors, Blues Traveller and more. He revived it again for the notorious 1999 edition in Rome, NY with acts like Limp Bizkit, Korn, Kid Rock, and Insane Clown Posse as well as Alanis Morissette, The Roots, Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, Wyclef Jean, George Clinton and is more remembered now for devolving into violence, fires, and sexual assault.
Outside of Woodstock, Lang also ran Just Sunshine Records in the early ’70s which released albums by Karen Dalton, funk singer Betty Davis and more, and he also managed artists including Joe Cocker and Rickie Lee Jones. He was also an associate producer of Wes Anderson’s 1996 feature debut, Bottle Rocket.
Rest in Peace, Michael.