Woodstock singer Havens, 72, dies of heart attack - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Woodstock singer Havens, 72, dies of heart attack

Posted: Updated:
FILE - In this May 1, 2008 file photo, Richie Havens plays at the opening night ceremony during the 61st International film festival in Cannes, southern France. (AP) FILE - In this May 1, 2008 file photo, Richie Havens plays at the opening night ceremony during the 61st International film festival in Cannes, southern France. (AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Richie Havens, the folk singer and guitarist who was the first performer at Woodstock, died Monday. He was 72.

Havens died of a heart attack in New Jersey, his family said in a statement. He was born in Brooklyn.

Havens was known for his crafty guitar work and cover songs, including his well-received cover of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman."

His performance at the three-day 1969 Woodstock Festival, where headliners included Jimi Hendrix, was a turning point in his career. He was the first act to hit the stage, performing for nearly three hours. His performance of "Freedom" — based from the spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" — became an anthem.

Havens returned to the site during Woodstock's 40th anniversary in 2009.

"Everything in my life, and so many others, is attached to that train," he said in an interview that year with The Associated Press.

Woodstock remains one of the events that continues to define the 1960s in the popular imagination. Performers included The Who, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and dozens of others, and the trippy anarchy of Woodstock has become legendary. There was lots of nudity, casual sex, dirty dancing and open drug use. The stage announcer famously warned people to steer clear of the brown acid.

Havens had originally been scheduled to go on fifth but had been bumped up because of travel delays. Festival producer Michael Lang said in the book "The Road to Woodstock" that he chose Havens "because of his calm but powerful demeanor."

His performance lasted hours because the next act hadn't showed up.

"So I'd go back and sing three more," Havens said in an interview with NPR. "This happened six times. So I sung every song I knew."

Havens' website said he had kidney surgery in 2010 and that he never recovered enough to perform concerts like he used to. He performed at Bill Clinton's presidential Inauguration in 1993.

Havens, who released his debut "Mixed Bag" in 1967, has released more than 25 albums. He sang with doo-wop groups on the street corner in his Brooklyn neighborhood at an early age. At 20, he moved to New York City's Greenwich Village, where he performed poetry, listened to folk music and learned how to play the guitar.

"I saw the Village as a place to escape to in order to express yourself," he said in his biography.

Havens' last album was 2008's "Nobody Left to Crown." He also started his own record label called Stormy Forest in 2000.

"I really sing songs that move me," he said in an interview with The Denver Post. "I'm not in show business; I'm in the communications business. That's what it's about for me."

Richie also became an actor in the 1970s and was featured in the original stage presentation of The Who's "Tommy." He appeared in the 1974 film "Catch My Soul" and co-starred with Richard Pryor in "Greased Lightning" in 1977.

Havens was the eldest of nine children. He is survived by his four daughters and many grandchildren.

A public memorial for Havens will be planned for a later date.

___

Online:

http://www.richiehavens.com

___

Follow Mesfin Fekadu on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MusicMesfin

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

  • <div style="font-weight:bolder;font-size:22px;">ENTERTAINMENT <a href ="/Global/category.asp?C=154659" style="font-size:12px;padding-left:80px;">more entertainment &raquo;</a></div>EntertainmentMore>>

  • 'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:04 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:04:17 GMT
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
  • Thomas Berger, 'Little Big Man' author, dead at 89

    Thomas Berger, 'Little Big Man' author, dead at 89

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-07-22 15:31:10 GMT
    Thomas Berger, the witty and eclectic novelist who reimagined the American West in the historical yarn "Little Big Man" and mastered genres ranging from detective stories to domestic farce, has died at age 89. 
    Thomas Berger, the witty and eclectic novelist who reimagined the American West in the historical yarn "Little Big Man" and mastered genres ranging from detective stories to domestic farce, has died at age 89. 
  • 'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    'X-Men' VR experience coming to Comic-Con

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:52 AM EDT2014-07-22 14:52:02 GMT
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
    Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.