Michael Lange, creator of Woodstock Festival, dies at 77

New York (AFP) – Michael Lang, co-founder and promoter of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival that served as a touchstone for generations of music fans, has died.

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. “Both things 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 with the tradition. Embrace a lifestyle that celebrates freedom of expression.

A general view of the crowd at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, August 14, 1969.
A general view of the crowd at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, August 14, 1969.

Nearly 400,000 people descended on the small village of Bethel, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of New York City and endured miles-long traffic jams, torrential rain, food shortages, and inundated sanitation facilities. More than 30 acts were performed on the main stage of the concert at a hill base on land owned by farmer Max Yasgur, and concert-goers were treated to special performances by artists including Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, The Who and Jefferson Airplane.

Lang, who wears a head of thick brown hair, was seen in Michael Wadley’s 1970 documentary chronicling the festival.

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

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 the Miami Pop Festival followed , which was 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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