On August 15,1969 black folk music singer Richie Havens opened the legendary Woodstock festival in Bethel, New York. Woodstock Music & Arts Festival was considered by many as the most pivotal point in mainstream music history. Havens was supposed to be the fifth act of the show, but due to a technical issue, he kicked off the festival for over 500,000 people. After his first song, Havens was asked to perform four more songs, including an impromptu version of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” which later became a cover song for the Woodstock movie. (Watch video of performance below.)
Raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn with eight siblings, Havens learned music from his father, a factory worker and nighttime piano player. The young musician was raised on the sounds of doo wop, but as he got older, he wanted to sing about social change. He began listening to artists like Fred Neil, Dino Valenti and Tom Paxton. Havens stood six and a half feet tall and recorded with a soft voice for a predominately white folk music audience.
It wasn’t an easy road for Havens. He and other musicians would play at local coffee houses, featuring 14-20 minute sets per night. The pay was by donation for many performances. Havens performed under those conditions for seven years. He was soon discovered by Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman. In 1968, he released his debut album entitled “Mixed Bag” under the Verve/Folkways label.
Then came his Woodstock performance.
It was only a year later that Havens recorded a successful cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” in 1970. He soon launched a successful music and acting career. He starred as Othello in the 1974 rock musical “Catch My Soul” and appeared in “Greased Lightning” (1977) opposite Richard Pryor.
Havens took to the road, touring for nearly 40 years, only retiring in his late sixties. Havens co-wrote one of his more famous songs,”Handsome Johnny”, with actor Lou Gossett Jr. He released 21 albums throughout his career and presented his final album “Nobody Left to Crown” in 2008.
In 2009, Richie Havens returned to Woodstock for the 40th anniversary celebration, the place where he gained half a million fans in a three-hour set.
On April 22, 2013, Richie Havens died of a heart attack at his home in New Jersey. He was 72 years old. His ashes will be scattered at the scene of his first big performance at Woodstock, which is now Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31