“We’re trying to make it something that penetrates and engages people — we could lose the planet if we’re not careful,” Lang says.
Michael Lang has built much of his legacy around the famed Woodstock festival he co-created in 1969 but he could do without the constant comparisons.
For decades, large gatherings would compare themselves to the iconic event — in 1987 the American Physical Society’s called their annual meeting “The Woodstock of Physics” while the Welsh Hay Festival has take to describing itself as the “Woodstock of the Mind.” Lang, who still owns the trademark to Woodstock with his partners in Woodstock Ventures said he has mixed feelings about the comparisons, but said he found one recent moniker — that the famously failed 2017 Fyre Festival was to be a “Woodstock for Millennials” — particularly egregious.
“That’s ridiculous,” Lang explained during a meeting at Beverly Hills’ Crescent Hotel, telling Billboard he just finished watching Netflix’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.
“The guy was trying to pull a scam. They never focused on the music, it was more about hanging out with models. That’s not Woodstock, that’s people stealing from others,” says Lang, who was in LA taking meetings for his next big project — Woodstock 50, a huge commemorative festival in Watkins Glen, New York. Aug. 16-18. Besides meeting with the big talent agencies in town, Lang said he also was in LA for a meeting with MedMen, one of
“My first business was actually a head shop in 1966” Lang says laughing, recalling a phone call from the head of police in Coral Gables when he first tried to open a store in the Florida town.
“He was this old New Yorker who just told me I was in the wrong place,” Lang recalls. “So I’m opened up the shop in Coconut Grove.”
That move a few miles west would lead to an introduction with Richard O’Barry, the dolphin trainer of the popular show Flipper who helped Lang launch Miami Pop, a 1968 concert that paid homage to Monterey Pop a year earlier with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker and more. The second day of Miami Pop was nearly rained out, but undeterred, Lang relocated to an upstate New York artist enclave known as Woodstock and began looking for a site to hold an even bigger outdoor festival focused on peace, music and three days of communal experience.
Working with partners Joel Rosenman, Capitol records Artie Kornfeld and John P. Roberts, heir to the Polident denture adhesive fortune (and bankroller of the festival) found and lost several sites in the upstate New York area to host their site until eventually settling on Max Yasgur‘s 600-acre dairy farm near White Lake in Bethel, New York.
What followed were three days of incredible music by Richie Havens, Santana