Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang dies aged 77 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Michael Lang, one of the co-founders of the legendary Woodstock Music Festival which is widely considered to have defined 1960s pop culture, died on Saturday.
The promoter, whose career has included managing acts such as former Woodstock Joe Cocker, succumbed to non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 77, reports Deadline.
His own fame was amplified when a documentary about the music festival was released in 1970 that included extensive interview footage of Michael.
Dear Gone: Michael Lang, one of the co-founders of the legendary Woodstock Music Festival which is widely considered to have defined 1960s pop culture, died on Saturday
Acts ranging from Joan Baez and the Grateful Dead to Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix all performed at the festival in upstate New York.
The astounding 32-act lineup also included The Who, Janis Joplin, Sly And The Family Stone, Ravi Shankar, and Jefferson Airplane.
Michael once told Variety that Carlos Santana took the stage when he was stuffed with acid – which he had just taken from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia because he had the false impression he wasn’t going to continue. for hours.
“He fought that guitar because he thought it was a snake,” said Michael, who had dropped out of college just two years before the festival.
Assembly: Acts ranging from Joan Baez and the Grateful Dead to Jimi Hendrix played Woodstock: Michael is pictured a few months before that in May 1969
Born in Brooklyn, Michael temporarily attended New York University and after dropping out opened a “head shop” – a cannabis accessories store – in Florida.
From there, he drifted into the music festival scene, including the Miami Pop Festival, which he said decades later WNYC was “inspired by Monterey.”
He described Miami Pop, which took place at Gulfstream Park in 1968 with a line-up that included Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Berry, as “kind of a seed for Woodstock”.
Upon his return to New York State, he moved to Woodstock in the upstate, where he met Artie Kornfeld.
As seen in 2018: Born in Brooklyn, Michael temporarily attended New York University and after dropping out he opened a “head shop” – a cannabis accessories store – in Florida
As Artie and Michael percolated the idea of a festival that would embody the rebellious spirit of the 1960s, they gathered more collaborators.
Ultimately, it was the Michael and Artie duo with Joel Rosenman and John P. Roberts that designed the three-day whirlwind festival.
Michael revealed that the event was inspired by the “Saturday Polls” which “took place on a small farm just outside of Woodstock” and were “the best thing I have ever experienced musically.” I mean, being on a farm under the stars, bucolic setting, listening to incredible music.
He said: “Most of the talent was local, but we were in Woodstock so local Van Morrison is Blues Magoos, Ellen McIlwaine, Richie Havens – amazing shows.”
Origins: Born in Brooklyn, Michael temporarily attended New York University and after dropping out opened a head shop in Florida; he is pictured in 1976
As the hippie phenomenon, the anti-war movement, civil rights and the rise of rock ‘n’ roll converged in the 1960s, Woodstock became a cultural hotspot.
Still, the festival was held on the farm of a man called Max Yasgur who Michael noted “was a Republican.” He was in favor of the Vietnam War.
Michael told Pollstar: “It just shows how you can have different points of view and keep moving forward together. And what we don’t have today.
“I think we were kind of empowered by Kennedy. When Kennedy was elected, he really reached out to American youth, ”Michael theorized at the Guardian.
Fab four: The four founders of Woodstock (clockwise from bottom left) John Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, Michael and John P. Roberts are pictured months before the festival
He noted that the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy took place in 1968, that the Vietnam War was raging, and that “many political groups that had tried to bring about peaceful change began to turn violent. “.
In the 2019 documentary Woodstock: 3 Days That Changed Everything, Michael explained that he had a “different take” on the most turbulent festivals of the time.
“And our vision was to create a very positive environment, very heartwarming for the audience, not to present any confrontation in any way,” he said.
They felt that the violence at previous festivals was “organized” and caused by over-enforcement, so they decided to allow people to arrive without tickets and provide free food and “free stages where artists would go and play. after”.
Pictured in 2009: Michael said that “our vision was to create a very positive environment, a very heartwarming kind of environment for the audience to not present any confrontation”
Max and his fellow promoters prepared toilets and other such equipment for “a crowd of 200,000” – to face an audience of more than twice that size.
“Estimates are half a million to 600,000 at the site, with a million and a half on the road trying to get there,” he said in an interview. “They closed the highway, they closed the Canadian border, they closed whatever they could shut down, you know – luckily, frankly, because I don’t know what we would have done with more people.”
Performances were scheduled all night and in the morning for three days, and drugs abounded among the audience and the musicians.
Jimi Hendrix insisted on giving the closing performance on the last night around 9am, despite Michael insisting midnight would be a better time.
Details: Michael said his favorite performance at Woodstock was Sly And The Family Stone because of the connection they built with the audience; he is pictured in Woodstock in 1969
When the virtuoso guitarist finally took the stage with his band, much of the old crowd had dispersed, leaving Michael “a little sad to see” a “poor” set.
“And then he did The Star-Spangled Banner and that, you know, changed everything,” Michael said. “It was just one of those moments that said it all for us.”
However, her favorite performance was that of Sly And The Family Stone due to the relationship they established with the audience.
The Who, although they are “not from our counter-culture” and feel “p *** ed to be there”, provided “an incredible setting and it changed their careers”.
Later: His concert promotion organization Michael Lang collaborated with artists ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Alicia Keys; he is pictured in 1994
Michael reflected that he and his fellow promoters “were pretty young when we did it, the four of us, and we kind of broke up after that because we weren’t mature enough to handle the consequences.”
Months after Woodstock, he was enlisted to help move the infamous Rolling Stones Altamont concert to where it performed.
One member of the public drew a gun and was stabbed to death, two others died in hit and run and one drowned in an irrigation ditch.
Later, Michael’s career included more concerts, as well as the start of Just Sunshine Records which worked with bands such as Betty Davis.
Months after Woodstock: He was drafted to help move the infamous Altamont concert where he is pictured (right) on stage with Sam Cutler
His concert promotion organization Michael Lang has collaborated with artists ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Alicia Keys, Kid Rock to Christina Aguilera, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Snoop Dogg.
He once said that he “knew how to get away” from the shadow of Woodstock because “I was going to compare the rest of my life to when I was screwed.”
Michael shared, “When you go through something like that, you can’t keep it as your sort of – as a comparative thing for anything else.”
He died in Sloan Kettering in New York and is survived by his wife Tamra and their five children Shala, LariAnn, Harry, Laszlo and Molly.
Iconic: he once thought he “knew how to get away” from the shadow of Woodstock because “I was going to compare the rest of my life to when I was screwed”