Woodstock festival co-creator Michael Lang dead at age 77

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Woodstock 50

Michael Lang, co-organizer of the 1969 Woodstock festival and its subsequent anniversary events Woodstock ’94 and Woodstock ’99, died on Saturday, January 8, at age 77, Variety reports.

Family spokesperson Michael Pagnotta revealed to the publication that Lang passed away at a New York City hospital from a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In 1969, Lang teamed up with songwriter and music producer Artie Kornfeld and financial investors Joel Rosenman and John Roberts to co-create the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, held August 15-18 in Bethel, New York.

Billed as “3 Days of Peace, Love and Music,” the festival became one of the iconic events of the “Flower Power” era, featuring performances by many of the biggest rock acts of the day, including Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Who, Janis Joplin, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker and many others.

For many years, Michael served as Joe Cocker’s manager, and he also managed several other acts.

Lang also helped organize the 25th anniversary Woodstock festival, Woodstock ’94, which was held August 12-14 on a farm near of Saugerties, New York. That event featured a mix of artists who’d played the 1969 fest and contemporary acts from various genres.

Five years later, Lang co-produced the ill-fated Woodstock ’99 festival, which was held July 22-25 on a former Air Force base in Rome, New York. The event has been portrayed as the antithesis of the 1969 Woodstock, and has become known for the many reported incidences of violence, alleged sexual assaults, fires and other vandalism by some of the attendees.

Lang also attempted to organize a 50th anniversary Woodstock festival that initially was scheduled to take place in August 2019 in Watkins Glen, New York. A huge, star-studded lineup with major artists from various genres was confirmed, but the festival, called Woodstock 50, was thrown into limbo when the company providing financial backing pulled out. Michael and his fellow organizers tried to find a new financial backer and a new site for the fest, but the event eventually was canceled.

Lang is survived by his wife, Tamara, and five children.

A message paying homage to Michael has been posted on the official Woodstock social media pages that notes, “He was a producer, father, environmentalist, friend, husband and most of all, one-of-a-kind dreamer whose mark on the world is undeniable.”

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