Folk music icon Richie Havens died Tuesday morning in his home from a sudden heart attack at the age of 72.
Read how the music world reacted below:
Amidst the confusion and chaos on Max Yasgurs’ farm on that August afternoon emerged Richie Havens, and a performance for the ages. He was faced with the daunting task of calming an unprecedented number of increasingly impatient concert goers with a guitar and a microphone. Relying on the savvy gained on the tiny concert stages of the coffee houses of Greenwich Village he proceeded to stake his claim to musical immortality. Starting off with a song that was one part sound check, one part Negro spiritual: “Motherless Child”, and one part spontaneous genius, he brought the soon to be dubbed “Woodstock Nation” to order with a song that is now called “Freedom”. For the next 3 hours the crowd was in the palm of his hand and the most famous concert in history had begun. He, of course, had a long career, filled with great songs and performances, and in no way do I wish to minimalize that aspect of the man. But on a day that Rock n Roll staked its’ claim as the music of a generation, Richie Havens led the charge. That legacy is to be cherished and honored. May he rest in peace.
– Bill Louis of 98.5 WNCX
Richie Havens wasn’t just a musician, he was an actor, both stage and screen and made commercials for products such as maxwell House Coffee, Amtrak, and sang the “Fabric of Our Lives” theme for the cotton industry. I was never lucky enough to see him live.
-Paula Balish of 98.5 WNCX
Chris Caffery of Trans-Siberian Orchestra remembered the Woodstock performer on Twitter:
As did Slash:
It is with great sadness that we must share the news of the passing of a musical legend and one of our favorite people, Richie Havens. Until just a few years ago, The Kent Stage was always on Richie’s schedule. His concerts here were always amazing and he was the one of the nicest guys to walk on the stage! Richie’s poster from Woodstock will always be in the center of our display of artists. This photo is from his last concert here on Jan. 24, 2010. Richie will be missed.
– Tom Simpson – Owner of The Kent Stage
What people remember about Richie is his performance at Woodstock. Still, his entire catalog is worthy of higher recognition. From his first major release, Mixed Bag, all the way through Nobody Left to Crown, Richie’s passion and soul was evident and inspiring.
– Michael Stanley of 98.5 WNCX
Just remember him playing what seemed like a 3 hour version of “Freedom” at the original Woodstock. The story behind that marathon performance is a scream because the next band was running late. So he just kept on going. Richie Havens just seemed too like a decent, simple man. Spoke more in actions than words.
And that’s how I think he’d just wanted to be remembered as. Lived almost a neighborly life there in New Jersey. Scoot out for a few live gigs then go back to being that neighbor ya know? Simple, decent and honest…To the core he is.
– Slats of 98.5 WNCX
The Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival also recognized Havens on their Twitter page:
Do you have a favorite memory of Richie Havens? Or something to say about his legacy? Please share it in the comments section below.