Line Out Music & the City at Night

Monday, April 22, 2013

RIP, Richie Havens

Posted by on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Folk musician Richie Havens died this morning of a heart attack. He was 72.

Havens is perhaps best remembered from his incendiary Woodstock performance/vamp of "Motherless Child," a song thereafter called "Freedom." He actually opened Woodstock and was kept on, stalling, for three hours!

Broooklyn born,and first a group vocalist, he relocated to Greenwich Village as a poet and then became a portrait artist, but the Village 's heavy folk scene drew him in. Once he began playing, he recorded records for the Douglas label, then Verve Forecast, so, tho' his Woodstock performance may have introduced him to a wider audience, he was already a seasoned part of the early-'60s groundswell of underground/beat culture. Like, he'd already begun his ascension when he opened Woodstock. In the '70s he had his own label, Stormy Forest, acted some, and eventually began educating kids about nature. He co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute and The Natural Guard.

Havens was not a pop musician; he reached for more and was able to grab it, and make it his own. He was never a commercial singer, he took pop hits and recrafted them into his own versions of dramatic and soulful flight; he never changed to suit nobody. In his words, HE MADE MUSIC!! One of my fave quotes of his is from an interview a couple years ago, I think it was his 70th birthday:

"I don't feel one iota different from the day I walked into Greenwich Village" 50 years prior. "Everything I hoped for has happened," he told Billboard. "I never had a bad day on stage. I don't think I'm ever going to go away...least while I'm alive."

Of course he left us too soon, but what a fantastic outlook on living a life; it was all a blessing. Godspeed, Mr. Havens.


Comments (5) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
This is the best thing you have ever written. Thank you.
Posted by paulus on April 22, 2013 at 6:11 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 2
...and thanks nips..
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on April 22, 2013 at 7:59 PM · Report this
stinkbug 3
NYT dispelled the "three hours" myth.

In any case, sad news.
Posted by stinkbug on April 23, 2013 at 9:26 AM · Report this
nipper 4
How long did he play for then? He's quoted as saying the stage manager @ Woodstock kept asking him to play "four more songs...four more songs!"
Posted by nipper on April 23, 2013 at 11:58 AM · Report this
nipper 5
NYT - "Mr. Havens started with “Minstrel From Gault” a few minutes after 5 p.m. on Aug. 15, 1969. He was originally supposed to play four songs, but other performers were late, so he played on. He later said he thought he had played for two hours and 45 minutes, but two bands followed him before sunset, around 8 p.m., so that was impossible."

So he played like a little less than three or so hours, give or take.
Posted by nipper on April 23, 2013 at 1:10 PM · Report this

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