Michael Lang (producer)
December 11, 1944 |
Brooklyn, New York, United States
|Occupation||Concert promoter, producer|
Michael Lang (born December 12, 1944 in Brooklyn, New York) is a musical concert promoter, producer and artistic manager who is best known as the co-creator of the Woodstock Music & Art Festival in 1969.
In 1967, Lang left NYU and moved to Coconut Grove, Florida to open a head shop. In 1968, after promoting a series of concert events in the Miami area, Lang (together with Marshall Brevetz) produced the "1968 Miami Pop Festival". It drew around 25,000 people on day one (May 18) with acts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Mothers of Invention, John Lee Hooker, Arthur Brown, and Blue Cheer. On the afternoon of the second day (May 19) it started to rain and basically closed the event down.
After he moved to Woodstock, NY and met Artie Kornfeld in New York, the two developed the concept for a major festival event to celebrate the '60s social movements, and planned to open a recording studio in the town of Woodstock. With Kornfeld and partners John P. Roberts and Joel Rosenman, Lang set into motion the Woodstock festival, which was held on Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969.
Michael Lang was featured in many scenes of the 1970 Academy Award winning documentary film Woodstock : 3 Days of Peace & Music. Lang also produced Woodstock 94 with partners Roberts, Rosenman and co-producer John Scher, and Woodstock 99 with John Scher and Ossie Kilkenny.
Altamont Free Concert
Lang was not among the producers of the December 6, 1969, Altamont Free Concert which some had billed as a "Woodstock West", but was asked by the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead to assist with the last-moment re-location, from Sears Point Raceway to the Altamont Speedway, near Tracy, CA. The concert was initially planned for Golden Gate Park, and was to feature The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The City of San Francisco revoked the permits for the Golden Gate venue, ostensibly due to a San Francisco 49ers football game at Kezar Stadium, located in the park, on the scheduled date. The concert was subsequently moved to Sears Point Raceway. However, a dispute over film rights led to its cancellation. Lang and Grateful Dead manager Rock Scully were then offered the Altamont Speedway – a rival to Sears Point Raceway – by owner Dick Carter. After the venue was set for the concert, Lang appeared, with his experience in moving the much larger Woodstock festival. The venue was moved on December 4 to the racetrack with the concert starting December 6.
The venue change created major technical problems, including a stage built too low and close to the fans. The Hells Angels were then hired for stage security, which resulted in numerous fights with concertgoers, as well as an on-stage altercation with members of the Jefferson Airplane, in which singer Marty Balin was struck and knocked unconscious. Audience member Meredith Hunter was stabbed and killed when he rushed the stage with an (unloaded) gun in an attempt to escape from the Angels' continuous violent abuses. These incidents, including the Jefferson Airplane fracas and the Meredith Hunter murder, were captured on film and appear in the Maysles Brothers documentary film Gimme Shelter. There were also three accidental deaths among the crowd of 300,000.
Lang is also seen in the film. He last appears on-stage, seen walking away during the Hells Angels/Jefferson Airplane scuffle on the stage.
Just Sunshine Records
Lang owned and operated Just Sunshine Records, which produced and released more than 40 albums by such diverse musical artists as Karen Dalton, Betty Davis and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Lang also managed several successful international recording artists, including Joe Cocker, Rickie Lee Jones, Willie DeVille, Tarkan, and Spanish recording artists El Ultimo de la Fila. The label was active and distributed by Gulf & Western's Famous Music Group from 1971 until 1974.
Lang was associate producer of Wes Anderson's 1996 film Bottle Rocket. The Michael Lang Organization (MLO) encompasses live event production, film production and artist management. Current projects include a 50th anniversary event for the Lincoln Center featuring the French Theater company Royal Delux, a 40th anniversary event for Woodstock in summer 2009, a movie version of the cult classic novel, "The Master and Margarita" and theater projects in Turkey and South Korea. Additionally, with his partners in Woodstock Ventures, Lang is developing future projects which include a Broadway musical based on Woodstock the musical and a Woodstock lifestyle brand.
In August 2005, MLO produced a sold out Festival event for Heineken at Randall’s Island called AmsterJam which featured mash ups from artists such as Snoop Dogg, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Wyclef Jean.
MLO also has worked with the following artists: Outkast, Prince, Missy Elliott, Snoop Dogg, Steely Dan, The Fugees, Wyclef Jean, Tarkan, Shakira, Madonna, Norah Jones, Marc Anthony, Twista, Dave Matthews, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, Kid Rock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Christina Aguilera, Linkin Park, and Avril Lavigne.
In 2009, Woodstock Ventures (Michael Lang, Joel Rosenman, and the John Roberts estate) formed joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment and launched a new woodstock.com. The site celebrates the history of the original Woodstock Festivals.
In 2009 Lang wrote the critically acclaimed NY Times Bestseller The Road to Woodstock with Holly George Warren.
- The Hidden Jewish History of Woodstock - InterfaithFamily Aug 19, 2009 - An earlier version of this story appeared in The New Jersey Jewish ... In return, the event's impresario, Jewish record executive and music producer Lou ... of that concert was Michael Lang, now 65, a Jewish guy from Brooklyn.
- Stars of David: Rock'n'roll's Jewish Stories Scott R. Benarde - 2003 - Biography & Autobiography "My Judaism has always been tied to tradition, food, family, and the way I was ... Organized by Jewish producer, songwriter, and impresario Lou Adler, and John ... (Four Jews organized the Woodstock festival: Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, ... Michael is Jewish.
- Inside History of the Grateful Dead by Dennis McNally - Broadway (August 12, 2003) ISBN 0-7679-1186-5
- Michael Lang: His hair remains the same, so does his energy - Hürriyet. Translation by Ali Yildirim
- Video on YouTube
- Rosenman, Joel; John Roberts; Robert Pilpel (1974). Young Men With Unlimited Capital: The Story of Woodstock. Houston, Texas: Scrivenery Press. ISBN 1-893818-02-0.
- The Road to Woodstock by Michael Lang. Ecco Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-0-06-157655-3.
- Michael Wadleigh, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend et al. (1970). Woodstock 3 Days of Peace and Music. ISBN 0790729350.
- Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, John Roberts, Michael Richards (1995). Woodstock 1969 Music Festival: The Creation of The Birth of a Generation. Virtue Films. OCLC 34800689.