Michael Lang, the creator and co-promoter of Woodstock died Saturday night at Sloan Kettering hospital in New York City from a a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 77.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Lang dropped out of New York University in 1967 and he moved to Coconut Grove, Florida where he opened a head shop. In 1968, after promoting numerous concerts around the Miami area, he co-produced the Pop & Underground Festival. On May 18th, 25,000 people gathered to watch Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Arthur Brown, and Blue Cheer. Rain caused the cancellation of the second day on May 19th.
Then, In 1969, Lang moved to Woodstock, New York and that's where he conceived the idea for what became music's most famous festival.
Several Woodstock performers have commented after Lang's death.
Graham Nash: "This man played an important role in the development of the 'Musical Festival'. His part in bringing the Woodstock nation to the forefront of American music is well known and he will be missed by his family and friends...The idea to have 'Three Days of Peace and Music' might seem silly to some these days but it’s that kind of thinking that we need more of -- celebrations of positive things and the joy they bring. He brought joy to many."
Carlos Santana: “Michael Lang was a divine architect of unity and harmony. He gave birth to Woodstock, the festival that manifested three glorious days of peace and freedom. He will no doubt be orchestrating another celestial event in Heaven. Thank you Maestro. You and Bill Graham are now united in the light of our divinity and are supreme love.” (Lang died on what would have been Graham's 91st birthday.)
John Fogerty: "Performing at the festival is a memory I will never forget. Sending love to his family. Rest In Peace Michael."
John Sebastian: "There’s a moment when Michael Lang changed the world. At Woodstock I was standing next to him when one of his minions way in the distance came running toward the stage and we thought, 'This can’t be good.’ He gets to Michael and says, ‘The fence is down. Folks are coming over the top.’ And Mike takes this long look over the whole scenario and almost to himself he says, ‘Well, I guess we now have a free festival.’ It was the original, ‘What could possibly go wrong,’ but he could pivot and see the light.”
[Source: Classic Hits Today]