Richie Havens Dies at Age 72
We’re sad to report that folk legend Richie Havens has passed away today at the age of 72. The Brooklyn-bred singer/guitarist was perhaps best known for opening the legendary Woodstock Festival with a near three-hour performance which set the tone for the rest of the event.
Havens toured and recorded for decades until complications from kidney surgery left him unable to tour after 45 years in 2012. In addition to putting out 21 studio albums and touring the world numerous times, Havens also devoted much of his time to charity. In 1991 he won the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.
Here’s the announcement from Havens’ longtime representatives, The Roots Agency:
RICHIE HAVENS was gifted with one of the most recognizable voices in popular music. His fiery, poignant, soulful singing style has remained unique and ageless since his historic appearance at Woodstock in 1969. For four decades, Havens used his music to convey passionate messages of brotherhood and personal freedom. Billboard Magazine writes, “This acoustic soul giant truly seems to be getting more inspiring and graceful with age.” From Woodstock to The Isle of Wight to Glastonbury to the Fillmore Auditorium to Royal Albert Hall to Carnegie Hall, Richie played the most legendary music festivals that ever were, and most of the world’s greatest concert venues. But even when performing in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse or a small club or regional theater, he was eternally grateful that people in any number turned up each time to hear him sing. More than anything, he feels incredibly blessed to have met so many of you along the way.
Watch Richie Havens perform “Freedom” at the Woodstock Festival in 1969: