Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jan. 21: Richie Havens - Freedom," "Here Comes the Sun" - was born on this date in 1941....


... He died on April 22, 2013 after suffering a heart attack. He was 72-years-old.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, at an early age Richard P. "Richie" Havens began organizing his neighborhood friends into street corner doo-wop groups. He performed with The McCrea Gospel Singers at 16.

At the age of 20, Richie left Brooklyn for the artistic stimulation of Greenwich Village. He had first gone there during the beatnik days of the 1950s to perform poetry, then drew portraits for two years and stayed up all night listening to folk music in the clubs. After a while, he began playing guitar.

Havens' reputation as a solo performer soon spread beyond the Village folk circles. After cutting 2 discs for Douglas Records, Havens signed on with manager Albert Grossman, and landed a record deal with the Verve Forecast label.

Verve released Mixed Bag in 1967, which featured tracks like "Handsome Johnny" (co-written by Havens and future Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr.), "Follow," and a cover of Bob Dylan’s "Just Like A Woman."

By 1969, he had released five more albums. Something Else Again became Havens' first album to hit the Billboard chart and also elevated Mixed Bag back onto the charts.

File:Richie Havens 1972 Hamburg.jpg
His Woodstock appearance proved to be a major turning point in his career. As the festival’s first performer, he held the crowd for nearly three hours - in part because he was told to perform a lengthy set because many artists were delayed in reaching the festival location - and called back for several encores.

Having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual "Motherless Child" that became "Freedom." The subsequent Woodstock movie release helped Havens reach a worldwide audience. He also appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival in late August 1969.
(Press album cover for direct link to the Amazon Website):
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Richie HavensThey Can't Hide Us Anymore


File:Richiehavens.jpgFollowing the success of his Woodstock performance, Richie started his own record label, Stormy Forest, and released Stonehenge in 1970. Later that year came Alarm Clock, which yielded the George Harrison- penned hit single "Here Comes the Sun," and became Havens's first album to reach Billboard’s Top 30 Chart.

Stormy Forest went on to release four more of his own albums: The Great Blind Degree, Live On Stage, Portfolio and Mixed Bag II.Havens also branched out into acting during the 1970s.

Increasingly, Havens devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues.

In the mid-1970s, he co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. That, in turn, led to the creation of The Natural Guard, an organization Richie describes as “a way of helping kids learn that they can have a hands-on role in affecting the environment. Children study the land, water, and air in their own communities and see how they can make positive changes from something as simple as planting a garden in an abandoned lot.”

During the 1980s and 1990s, Havens continued a world touring schedule and a steady release of albums. The release of 1993’s Resume, The Best Of Richie Havens included  his late 1960s and early 1970s recordings.

In 2003, the National Music Council awarded Richie the American Eagle Award for his place as part of America’s musical heritage, and for providing “a rare and inspiring voice of eloquence, integrity and social responsibility.”

File:Richie Havens.jpg
In 2000, Havens published They Can't Hide Us Anymore, an autobiography co-written with Steve Davidowitz. Havens has maintained his status as a folk icon, and continues to tour. In 2002, Havens released Wishing Well, followed by the 2004 album, Grace of the Sun.

On October 15, 2006, Havens was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.


For more about Richie, visit his Website at -



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