Michael Lang, one of the creators of the Woodstock festival, which drew more than 400,000 people to a farm in upstate New York in 1969 for a weekend of “peace and music” – plus plenty of drugs, skinny, muddy revelry and traffic jams on the highway — resulting in one of the great scenes of 20th-century pop culture, died Saturday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 77.
Michael Pagnotta, a spokesperson for Mr. Lang’s family, said the cause was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In August 1969, Mr. Lang was a 24-year-old baby-faced baby with limited experience as a concert promoter when he and three partners, Artie Kornfeld, John P. Roberts, and Joel Rosenman, hosted the Woodstock Music and Art Fair on land leased from a dairy farmer. , Max Yasgur, in rural Bethel, NY, about 100 miles northwest of New York City.
Rock festivals had sprung up all over the country since Monterey Pop in California two years earlier, and the Woodstock partners, all in their 20s at the time, were ambitious enough to hope for 50,000 in attendance. Mr. Lang and Mr. Kornfeld, a record executive, booked a solid lineup, which included Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and a new group called Crosby, Stills & Nash (they would be joined on the festival by Neil Young), among others. The show was scheduled for August 15-17.
They sold 186,000 presale tickets for $8 a day. On opening day, traffic snarled much of the New York State Thruway, and many ticket holders didn’t make it. Others just went into the field without paying.