Michael Lang, the co-creator and organizer of 1969’s Woodstock Music and Art Fair, and its follow-ups Woodstock ’94 and the ill-fated Woodstock ’99, died Saturday on the age of 77 at Sloan Kettering in New York City. The reason for loss of life was a uncommon type of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in line with a spokesperson.
He final appeared publicly simply earlier than the COVID pandemic hit across the fiftieth anniversary of the competition, which was marked by controversial will they-or-won’t makes an attempt to stage a Woodstock 50 competition that performed out within the press.
Lang was raised in Brooklyn and attended school in New York City earlier than leaping into live performance promotion within the late Sixties. The first multi-artist occasion he organized was the 1968 Miami Pop Festival, which featured Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and John Lee Hooker, amongst different acts of the period.
His transfer to the Woodstock, New York space sewed the seeds of a extra formidable three-day competition. Along with co-founders John Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and John P Roberts, they conceived of Woodstock, one of the vital impactful occasions in music historical past, drawing some 400,000 folks to a farm (owned by Max Yasgur) in Bethel, New York and shutting down the New York State Thruway as scores left their vehicles stranded and located different means to reach to the competition grounds.
Woodstock itself arrived at a time of nice social upheaval within the United States, which was engulfed in an unpopular struggle in Vietnam that noticed many 1000’s of younger adults drafted and subsequently killed in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile again at residence, the hippie motion was influencing artwork, vogue, movie and music, because the tagline to the competition — “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” — illustrates.
The competition exceeded all expectations — and everybody’s worst case eventualities — when a mini-city spontaneously erected to soak up the tunes, and lots of medication, all through the three day showcase. Among the bands on the invoice had been: The Grateful Dead, The Who, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, Joan Baez and Jefferson Airplane, amongst others. A 1970 soundtrack album and documentary movie, through which Lang was featured extensively, detailed the scheduling snafus, climate points and customarily lack of preparedness for what would grow to be the seminal cultural second of the Sixties.
There had been loads of medication being consumed over these three days, as Lang recalled to Variety in 2019. There was one incident when Jerry Garcia handed some acid to Carlos Santana, who thought he had a number of hours earlier than he needed to carry out, after which was rushed onstage, excessive as a kite, solely to ship one of many weekend’s most compelling performances.
“He battled that guitar because he thought it was a serpent,” mentioned Lang.
Woodstock was so impactful as a reputation that Lang was capable of stage two anniversary exhibits within the coming a long time. In 1994, to mark its twenty fifth birthday, Lang co-produced Woodstock ’94 in Saugerties, NY, about 70 miles from the unique Bethel website. The competition got here to be often known as Mudstock after the second and third days of the competition had been marked by rainstorms that turned a lot of the sphere into a large mud pit, additional memorialized by members of Nine Inch Nails, Green Day and Primus both drenching themselves in mud or having it slung at them by the group. The lineup included a combination of legacy performers from the unique competition, like Santana, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joe Cocker, John Sebastian and Country Joe McDonald, and modern alt-rock bands just like the Cranberries and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Another commemoration of the competition 1999, Woodstock ’99, was held at a 3rd website altogether, in Rome, NY, and drew about 400,000 attendees in particular person and lots of extra who watched by way of pay-per-view. While shy of the gate-crashing and mass muddiness of the ’94 competition, the competition made information for the violence and vandalism of the viewers, with Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” changing into the unofficial theme track of a competition destined to not be remembered as emblematic of peace and love. None of the unique artists from the 1969 Woodstock got whole units this time, though some particular person musicians returned as a part of others bands. With a definite emphasis on hip-hop and fashionable rock, performers included Rage Against the Machine, DMX, Kid Rock, Dave Matthews Band and Metallica in addition to a handful of veterans. The lingering unhealthy style the commercialism and stories of sexual assault left with the general public created difficulties for Lang when he appeared towards mounting but a fourth Woodstock competition in 2019.
In 2019, Lang’s in the end unsuccessful makes an attempt to provide a fourth Woodstock competition suffered a collection of insurmountable setbacks after asserting a invoice of heavy hitters that was to incorporate Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus and Dead and Company performing Aug, 16-18 in Watkins Glen, NY. Backers of the competition — monetary accomplice Dentsu and its funding division Amplifi — pulled their help in April after an preliminary funding of greater than $32 million, setting off lawsuits. But Lang’s greatest downside was getting permits from native authorities, which had been quick in coming even after a change of location and a capability lastly set at a lowly 75,000 earlier than Lang lastly gave in and pulled the plug.
Said Lang of its demise when chatting with Variety in Aug. 2019: “It was just one bizarre thing after another, but I definitely feel lighter.”
Lang is survived by his spouse Tamara, their sons Harry and Laszlo, and his daughters LariAnn, Shala and Molly.