Michael Lang, co-creator of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, died Saturday at 77 years old from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. For decades, Lang was the face of the legendary music festival that drew 400,000 people to a Bethel, NY dairy farm in August 1969. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez, and dozens of other artist performed to celebrate "peace and music." Lang went on to produce Woodstock '94 and Woodstock '99 which was, er, decidedly less peaceful. He was also spearheading Woodstock 50 but the event was ultimately cancelled. Above, a Guardian interview with Lang from 2011. From NPR:
"Woodstock was a test of whether people of our generation really believed in one another and the world we were struggling to create," Lang wrote in his 2009 book The Road to Woodstock. "How would we do when we were in charge? Could we live as the peaceful community we envisioned? I'd hoped we could."
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Lang briefly attended New York University before moving to Florida. It was there he got the idea for Woodstock after organizing the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, featuring Jimi Hendrix as the headliner.
"I was amazed at the effect music had on the kids," he told Billboard in 2009. "I went from John Lee Hooker to Jimi Hendrix, and they loved it all… and looking at their faces and the way music sort of transformed them really started me in that direction."