As a concert promoter, producer, artist manager, and author, Michael Lang was an integral part of the entertainment industry almost from the moment he first stepped onto the scene in the 1960s. That’s because he not only co-founded but also became the face of the Woodstock Music Festival merely a couple of years into his career, just to organize all its follow-up events as well. His most intriguing quality, though, as indicated in Netflix’s ‘Trainwreck: Woodstock’ 99,’ is that he didn’t lose his composure no matter what — so now, let’s find out a bit more about him, shall we?
Who Was Michael Lang?
Although Michael Scott Lang (born on December 11, 1944) was raised in a seemingly cozy yet middle-class Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, he never let anything or anyone hold him back. He actually dropped out of New York University in 1967 before relocating to the Coconut Grove neighborhood in Miami, Florida, only to open up a head shop (paraphernalia specializing retail store). However, he soon found himself dabbling behind the scenes at music events as well, which swiftly resulted in the incredible opportunity to produce the 1968 Pop & Underground Festival.
This particular experience was the one that sparked the idea of a peaceful, love-filled, independent, and community-driven celebration in Michael’s mind, especially with different artists on stage. “I was amazed at the effect music had on the kids…,” he once revealed. “This was a college-age, late high school-age audience,…and looking at their faces and the way music sort of transformed them really started me in that direction.” Therefore, after the concert promotor moved to Woodstock, New York, the same year and coincidently met all the right people, he managed to create what can only be described as magic — Woodstock 1969.
Michael did attempt to kind of recreate the undeniable success alongside his partners as well as promoters by hosting the festival again in 1994, 1999, and 2019, yet none worked out too well. While Woodstock ’94 was a financial disaster owing to a storm breaking the fences and attendees coming in for free, Woodstock ’99 was literal chaos with barbarity, violence, and even a riot. On the other hand, Woodstock ’19 was officially canceled less than a month before it was scheduled to begin due to not just logistics but also financial as well as venue issues. Its line-up included Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, the Killers, Chance the Rapper, and Imagine Dragons.
How Did Mike Lang Die?
Despite the ups and downs of Woodstock, Michael Lang had managed to create a good life for himself by evolving into a, as mentioned above, producer, artist manager, author, and sculptor. He actually established a record label called Just Sunshine Record in 1971 and even financed documentary movies such as ‘Woodstock: The Lost Performances,’ ‘Woodstock: Now & Then,’ as well as ‘A Bright Light.’ As if that’s not enough, he managed singer Joe Cocker, launched the Michael Lang Organization (MLO), and co-authored his memoir ‘The Road to Woodstock,’ all the while featuring in different interviews or documentaries himself.
Michael was loud and proud of every aspect of his life, but unfortunately, following 77 great years, he passed away from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It was January 8, 2022. He is survived by his wife, Tamara Pajic Lang; two sons, Harry Lang and Laszlo Lang; as well as three daughters, Molly Lang, LariAnn Lang, and Shala Lang Moll.
We should mention that Michael Lang had high hopes for our world, as made clear in his 2009 book, particularly when he penned, “Woodstock was a test of whether people of our generation really believed in one another and the world we were struggling to create. How would we do when we were in charge? Could we live as the peaceful community we envisioned? I’d hoped we could.”
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