Woodstock music festival co-creator Michael Lang dead at 77

Michael Lang, one of the founders and promoters of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival that was a touchstone for generations of music fans, has passed away.

Michael Bagnotta, a spokesman for the Lang family, said Sunday that the 77-year-old had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and died Saturday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

“He was quite a historical figure, and also a great guy,” Bagnotta, who said he had known Lang for about 30 years, told The Associated Press. “They both go hand in hand.”

Along with partners Artie Kornfeld, John Roberts, and Joel Rosenman, Lang organized the festival, described as “three days of peace and music,” in the summer of 1969 when the Vietnam War raged and led increasing numbers of disaffected young Americans to break away from traditional norms and embrace A lifestyle that celebrates freedom of expression.

Music lovers walk along roads choked with traffic on their way to the Woodstock Festival in Bethel, New York, in August 1969. (Holton Archive/Getty Images)

Nearly 400,000 people descended on the small village of Bethel, about 80 kilometers northwest of New York City, enduring long traffic jams, torrential rain, food shortages and overcrowded sanitation.

Over 30 acts were performed on the concert’s main stage at a hill base on land owned by farmer Max Yasgur, and concert-goers were treated to standout performances by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, The Who and Jefferson Airplane.

A plaque indicating the location of the Woodstock Music Festival. From August 15 to 17, 1969, an estimated 400,000 music fans gathered at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, New York, to hear performances by prominent artists. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Lang, who wears a head of thick brown hair, was seen throughout Michael Wadley’s 1970 documentary, Woodstock, which chronicled the festival.

Lang wrote in his memoirs: “From the beginning, I believed that if we did our work right and from the heart, re-ground and set the right tone, people would reveal their higher selves and create something wonderful.” The road to Woodstock.

Artie Kornfield, left, Lang and Joel Rosenman attend the Blu-ray launch of Woodstock’s 40th anniversary at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City’s Times Square on June 4, 2009. They were co-founders of the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. (Brad Barkett/Getty Images)

Lang and others sought a concert in 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock, but the effort was eventually canceled due to financial problems and difficulty securing a venue. In an interview with the Associated Press at the time, Lang described the experience as a “really strange journey” and said he still hoped to hold the concert in the future.

Although Woodstock is often seen as a model for large-scale music festivals, it wasn’t the first to be held in the United States Two years ago, the Monterey Pop Festival attracted about 200,000 people to California, and in 1968, Miami Pop followed That festival also organized by Lang. But Woodstock nevertheless occupies an indelible place in history.

“A lot of them are modeled on Woodstock – Bonaro and Coachella in particular,” Lang said of other festivals in a 2009 interview. “There have been rituals created that are constantly repeated.”

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