The new Netflix documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 shines a spotlight on some of the most shocking moments that came out of the music festival in 1999. From multiple sexual assaults, vandalism, and Trench Mouth (the same disease that affected World War I soldiers,) the entire event was one unmitigated disaster. Michael Lang, one of the original creators of the generation-defining Woodstock 1969, decided the world needed another music festival in 1999. However, almost nothing went according to plan. Here’s everything you need to know about the man seen in Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, Michael Lang.
Who is Michael Lang?
Woodstock ’99 wasn’t Lang’s first rodeo. After dropping out of New York University, Lang moved to Florida and made a life out of promoting concerts and music festivals. He got a gig promoting the 1968 Pop and Underground Festival, which featured some of the biggest names in music at the time, like Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa. Lang eventually returned to New York, where he met Arthur Kornfield. Together the two came up with the idea to celebrate the music and art of the ’60s.
Lang also helped organize Woodstock ’94. However, neither that one nor Woodstock ’99 managed to live up to the hype of its predecessor. In fact, if anything, Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 shows everyone exactly why this type of festival is ripe for disaster.
Who was ‘Trainwreck: Woodstock’ 99′ co-creator Michael Lang’s wife?
Lang’s life in the music industry led him to different jobs over the years. When he managed singer Joe Cocker, he married one of Cocker’s and Leon Rusell’s vocalists, Ann Lang. The couple had three daughters together but eventually divorced. Lang then went on to marry Tamara Pajic, with whom he had two sons. Lang and Tamara stayed married up until his death in 2022.
Three months after filming Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, Lang died from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. His representative Michael Pagnotta announced his death on Twitter, writing, “We are very sad to hear that legendary Woodstock icon and long-time family friend Michael Lang has passed at 77 after a brief illness. Rest In Peace.”
Michael Lang’s response in ‘Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99’
Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 features Lang’s thoughts on the music festival, and ultimately, fans criticized his words. When asked about the multiple sexual assaults reported, Lang essentially said he couldn’t have stopped anything because it “happened in secret.” Somehow, to most of the audience, Lang and fellow organizer John Scher leave a worse taste in viewers’ mouths than the thousands of people who burnt the festival to the ground.
In Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99, Lang’s response to the festival’s failure is more than a little disappointing. Neither he nor Scher takes responsibility for any of the event’s failures. In the final moments of the weekend, the Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage to perform. Lang decided to hand out thousands of lit candles to the people in the audience. He believed this would be a chance for everyone to unite as the Chili Peppers sang “Under the Bridge.” Instead, the crowd used the candles to set everything on fire.
When asked for his thoughts on the ending of Woodstock ’99, Lang said, “I thought it was a terrible ending for a decent weekend. that’s what it was. You go on.”