Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang has died at the age of 77.
The concert promoter – who organised the iconic music festival, which saw 32 popular music acts perform outside in sporadic rain in 1969 – sadly lost his battle with a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on Saturday (08.01.22), a family spokesperson confirmed.
In a statement, Michael Pagnotta wrote on Twitter: “We are very sad to hear that legendary Woodstock icon and long time family friend Michael Lang has passed at 77 after a brief illness. Rest In Peace”(sic)
At the age of 24, Michael worked with partners Joel Rosenman, Capitol Records’ Artie Kornfeld and John P. Roberts on the 1969 festival, which took at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm.
It has since gone on to be recognised as a significant moment in music performance history and featured the likes of Richie Havens, Santana, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, and The Who as star performers throughout its three-day run.
In 2019, Michael recalled: “I booked the three hottest bands at the time — Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat and Credence Clearwater Revival. That gave us immediate credibility and the word got out and then suddenly the stone was rolling downhill. Then we started adding bands left and right. I remember when David Geffen walked into our office with a test pressing of Crosby, Stills and Nash. He put it on the turntable and made a deal right there on the spot. Same thing with Joe Cocker. We heard his voice and booked him pretty quickly.”
After Woodstock, Michael created his own record company and revived Woodstock for a 25th-anniversary event in 1994, and a 50th-anniversary event in 2019 was set to take place, with the likes of Miley Cyrus headlining, but was ultimately cancelled.
Speaking of the “community” spirit of the festival, Michael once said: “In 1969, people came to have three days of peace and music and to experience community. That what’s 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.”