Michael Lang (producer)

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Michael Lang
Michael Lang - Afterparty, "Taking Woodstock" (3802811192) (cropped).jpg
Lang in 2009
Born (1944-12-11) December 11, 1944 (age 76)
OccupationConcert promoter, producer

Michael Lang (born December 11, 1944) is an American concert promoter, producer and artistic manager who is best known as a co-creator of the Woodstock Music & Art Festival in 1969.

Early life[edit]

Lang was born in Brooklyn to a Jewish family.[1][2][3][4] In 1967, Lang dropped out of New York University 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 (with Marshall Brevetz) produced the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. It drew around 25,000 people on day one (May 18) and featured Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, John Lee Hooker, Arthur Brown, and Blue Cheer. On the afternoon of the second day (May 19) it started to rain and the event ended early.


Woodstock Festivals 1969, 1994, 1999, 2019[edit]

After he moved to Woodstock, New York and met Artie Kornfeld, the two developed the concept for a major festival event to celebrate the 1960s 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 initiated the planning of 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 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.

In May 2014, Lang revealed plans for a possible 50th anniversary concert in 2019 and that he is exploring various locations.[5]

On January 9, 2019, Lang announced that the official Woodstock 50 festival would take place on August 16–18, 2019 in Watkins Glen, New York.[6] However, after many logistical and financial backing issues and three venue changes, the event was ultimately cancelled.[7]

Altamont free concert[edit]

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, California. 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.[8] 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 a gun while The Rolling Stones were performing. These incidents 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[edit]

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.

Joe Cocker[edit]

Shortly after The Woodstock Music And Arts Fair in 1969, Michael began managing Joe Cocker, which continued well over 20 years. He made an appearance in Cocker's You Can Leave Your Hat On music video, as one of the Trumpet players.

Later years[edit]

Lang was associate producer of Wes Anderson's 1996 film Bottle Rocket.[9]

The Michael Lang Organization (MLO) encompasses live event production, film production and artist management. Projects included a 50th anniversary event for the Lincoln Center featuring the French Theater company Royal de luxe, a Woodstock 50th anniversary event planned for summer 2019 that was cancelled, 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.

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, Avril Lavigne, and Joe Cocker.[10]

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.[11] The site celebrates the history of the original Woodstock Festivals.

In the 2009 Ang Lee film, Taking Woodstock, Michael Lang is portrayed by actor Jonathan Groff.

In 2009, Lang wrote the critically acclaimed New York Times Best Seller, The Road to Woodstock with Holly George Warren.

Personal life[edit]

Lang has 5 children and 1 grandchild. His first wife, vocalist Ann Lang, toured as a backup singer with Joe Cocker and Leon Russell from 1978-1982. He is a sculptor.


  1. ^ Bloom, Nate (August 14, 2009). "Woodstock - The Jewish connection". The Jewish Standard. One of the promoters of that concert was Michael Lang, now 65, a Jewish guy from Brooklyn.
  2. ^ I am the co-founder of the Woodstock Festival, Michael Lang. Ask me ... https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/.../i_am_the_cofounder_of_the_woodstock_festival/Sep 11, 2014 – I was the co-creator and producer of the iconic Woodstock Festival in 1969, and ... I am the co-founder of the Woodstock Festival, Michael Lang. ...... We met at Ratner's, which was a jewish deli restaurant next to the Filmore ...
  3. ^ Bloom, Nate (August 19, 2009). "The Hidden Jewish History of Woodstock". 18Doors.
  4. ^ Benarde, Scott R. (July 1, 2003). Stars of David: Rock'n'roll's Jewish Stories. Brandeis University Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-1584653035. Four Jews organized the Woodstock Festival: Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, John Roberts, and Joel Rosenman
  5. ^ "Woodstock Organizer Plotting 50th Anniversary Concert for 2019". Rolling Stone. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy (2019-01-09). "Three-Day Woodstock Festival From Original Organizer Coming This Summer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  7. ^ Grow, Kory (2019-07-31). "Woodstock 50 Is Officially Canceled". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2021-08-04.
  8. ^ Inside History of the Grateful Dead by Dennis McNally – Broadway (August 12, 2003) ISBN 0-7679-1186-5
  9. ^ imdb
  10. ^ Michael Lang: His hair remains the same, so does his energy – Hürriyet. Translation by Ali Yildirim
  11. ^ 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 0-7907-2935-0.
  • 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.

External links[edit]