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Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang has died, aged 77

One of the brains behind the world’s most iconic music festival, Michael Lang has died in a New York Hospital, aged 77.

At the age of 24, Michael Lang, alongside Artie Kornfeld, John Rosenman, and John P. Roberts, envisioned Woodstock, an event that would be considered the most important festival in the history of music.

Lang died in Sloan Kettering Hospital from a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to reports from his longtime friend, Michael Pagnotta.

Woodstock
Aerial view of Woodstock’s crowds | Credit: Woodstock

The iconic 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair took place on a 600-acre dairy farm, 175km northwest of New York City and is remembered for its stacked line-up, abundance of psychedelics and enormous crowds, causing traffic jams of up to 30km along New York State Thruway.

Rolling Stone named 1969 Woodstock as number 19 in their list of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll, and even still, it’s hard to believe the event isn’t higher on the list.

Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Carlos Santana and Janis Joplin were among the big-names that played the original Woodstock, delivering performances that would set the standard for decades of live shows.

Jimi Hendrix performing at Woodstock | Credit: Woodstock

Lang revived the iconic festival in 1994 for the 25th anniversary of Woodstock, boasting another crowd-pulling lineup featuring The Cranberries, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The event is often referred to as “Mudstock” after heavy rains drenched the festival’s grounds, covering patrons and artists in mud.

Along with his work as a festival organiser and promotor, Lang also owned and operated Just Sunshine Records, and managed prominent artists including Joe Cocker and Ricky Lee Jones.

Lang’s impact on the music and entertainment industries will be appreciated long into the future as modern festivals attempt to replicate the rapture of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair.