Music | January 9, 2022 5:28 pm

Michael Lang, Woodstock Organizer, Dead at 77

His career in music spanned decades

Michael Lang
Michael Lang, one of the original founders of Woodstock '69 and the founder of Woodstock '99.
Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Over 50 years after legions of music fans descended on Max Yasgur’s farm, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair remains an iconic moment in music history. It wasn’t the first music festival, and it was far from the last, but it continues to loom large in popular culture. This week, one of the creators and organizers of the festival, Michael Lang, has died at the age of 77.

According to an article at The Hollywood Reporter, the cause of death was complications as a result of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Woodstock wasn’t Lang’s first experience running a music festival. He had previously been involved with organizing 1968’s Miami Pop Festival, at which the likes of Chuck Berry and The Jimi Hendrix Experience played. Lang and fellow organizer Richard O’Barry would both work on Woodstock a year later.

Lang was also involved with the organization of Woodstock ’94 and the ill-fated Woodstock ’99, as well as a planned 50th anniversary festival that never quite materialized. In collaboration with Holly George-Warren, Lang chronicled the circumstances leading up to the legendary festival in the acclaimed book The Road to Woodstock. He was also played by Jonathan Groff in the 2009 film Taking Woodstock.

As Pitchfork noted in their obituary, Lang’s work also included managing artists including Joe Cocker, and releasing music by the likes of Karen Dalton and Betty Davis. While Woodstock loomed large over his career, it was far from the only thing Lang was known for — and the less storied work he did offers plenty of fascinating information to explore.