|Occupation||Concert promoter, producer|
Michael Lang is Jewish and from Brooklyn. 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, 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.
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.
In May 2014, Lang revealed plans for a possible 50th anniversary concert in 2019 and that he is exploring various locations.
On January 9, 2019, Lang announced that the official Woodstock 50 festival would take place on August 16-18, 2019 in Watkins Glen, NY. On April 29, 2019, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn announced Woodstock 50 had been cancelled, though Lang "vehemently" denied it.
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 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.
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.
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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 50th anniversary event for Woodstock in summer 2019, 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, Avril Lavigne, and Joe Cocker.
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.