Richie Havens, the famed folk singer whose passionate live performances and equally intense guitar-playing made him a breakout star of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, has died at the age of 72 from an apparent heart attack, according to a press release.
Born in Brooklyn, Havens become an essential figure in the growing ‘60s folk revolution, sharing venues (and even a manager) with fellow folkie Bob Dylan. A prolific performer, he released nine albums in nine years between 1967 and 1976, all of which cracked the Billboard Top 200.
Known for his soulful renditions of popular songs, his biggest commercial hit came with his cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” in 1971.
For many, however, Havens’ career-making performance was when he served as the opening act of the historical 1969 music festival in Woodstock, where he played an impassioned set that, due to the lateness of other festival artists, stretched on for almost three hours.
Havens would continue to tour and record albums throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s, playing everywhere from small nightclubs to Royal Albert Hall.
Besides touring, Havens took time to appear in a small role in the 2007 Todd Haynes-directed Bob Dylan “biopic” I’m Not There where he performed a rousing version of Dylan’s “Tombstone Blues.”
Last year, however, Havens’ representatives announced on his Facebook page that he would no longer be touring due to health concerns following a kidney surgery.