Michael Lang Death: The Woodstock Organizer Died From Cancer

michael lang death

Getty Michael Lang, one of the original founders of Woodstock '69 and the founder of Woodstock '99, overlooks the site of Woodstock 99 prior to the festival held at Grifiss Airforce base in Rome, N.Y.

Michael Lang died from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an often deadly form of cancer, just a few months after he was interviewed for the Netflix docuseries “Trainwreck: Woodstock 99.”

Lang was 77 when he died in a Manhattan hospital January 8, 2022, family spokesperson Michael Pagnotta told The New York Times.

Lang is still remembered most for his iconic 1969 festival, the original Woodstock. He commented briefly on the festival’s legacy, saying it may have been tainted by the 1999 festival fiasco.

Here’s what you need to know:


Lang Had a Wife, 5 Children & a Grandson & His Obituary Only Briefly Mentions Woodstock 99

Lang was married to Tamara Pajic Lang, according to his obituary in The New York Times. He had two sons, Harry and Laszlo, and three daughters, Molly Lang, LariAnn Lang and Shala Lang Moll. He was also survived by a grandson and his sister, Iris Brest, the obituary said.

The article only made a brief mention of Woodstock 99. It said:

Mr. Lang was also involved in anniversary versions of Woodstock in 1994 and 1999 — the latter marred by fires, rioting and allegations of sexual assault — and he eventually rejoined Woodstock Ventures as a minority partner.

While the Netflix documentary said there would likely never be another Woodstock after Woodstock 99, Lang attempted to revive the festival for a 50th anniversary in 2019 with a lineup including Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, the Killers, Chance the Rapper, Santana and Imagine Dragons, The New York Times reported.

“But the event collapsed amid a legal battle with its financial backer, an arm of the Japanese advertising conglomerate Dentsu,” the article said.


A Hudson Valley Photographer Who Knew Lang Said He Was ‘Always Pleasant’

Dion Ogust, a photographer who lives in Woodstock, New York, wrote a tribute to Lang soon after his death. Ogust documented his hometown for 30 years, which was known best for the iconic 1969 festival.

Ogust wrote:

I appreciated Michael. He was always pleasant, quick with a smile, easy for a photo, even when the interview was yet another replay of the same questions being asked.

Seeing him drive down the road or walking through town (in the days when we did that) confirmed that, yes, this is Woodstock. There is the myth of Woodstock, and there is the town, and both exist.

What a destiny Michael had in creating something that touched so many people and fed the creative souls of many artists and people of that generation onward.

I am sorry he is gone. Too soon. Too tragic.

We never know how the story of life will end. This one was truly a sad surprise.

Brian Hollander also wrote about his legacy and the impression Lang left in a tribute article for Hudson Valley One.

Hollander wrote:

Another of Woodstock’s many myths says that if you spend three nights in the shadow of Overlook Mountain, you will always come back. But if you ask people why they came here in the first place, you could point to the quiet guy with a Buddha-like smile, curly hair and twinkling eyes and his creation, an event that made worldwide history.

Yea, Michael Lang passed away on January 8, but not before taking us for a great ride on the Harley he rode up on in the movie before declaring a free festival back in ’69. Why did you come here? Well, hey man, it’s Woodstock!

READ NEXT: Woodstock 99 Deaths: Tributes to Those Who Died

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