Richie Havens - No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed

Bottom Line (New York, NY), 02/16/1978

Music Audio Richie Havens
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Though he received his widest exposure from his appearance at Woodstock and in the documentary film of that event, Richie Havens continued to entertain enthusiastic audiences for almost five decades with his soulful brand of folk-rock. This show, one of several recorded during the late 1970s for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, was aired while Havens was promoting albums he made while on A&M Records.

After nearly a decade on Verve Records (a division of MGM, when it was still in the music business), Havens started a run on several major labels between 1975 and 1983, when he made five albums for four major labels, A&M, Polydor, EMI, and Elektra Records. The move to A&M during 1976 and '77, and a complete visual makeover (finally getting false upper teeth where there had been none) had been part of the strategy to break Havens through to a mainstream audience.

Unfortunately, his comeback coincided with the disco explosion and Havens saw no real hits during this period, yet he actually made some of the best music of his career, much of which can be heard in this show. Havens has written and recorded numerous original songs, but he is best known for his interpretations of popular chart hits, and in particular, his covers of Bob Dylan and Beatles songs.

Havens found himself in Greenwich Village in 1961 just at the dawn of the folk music explosion that launched the careers of Bob Dylan, Odetta, Joan Baez, and many others. His gruff and R&B-inspired voice and highly unique open tuning guitar style has taken classic songs to new heights, such as James Taylor's "Fire & Rain," Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey," Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman," 10cc's "I'm Not In Love," and a very cool, slow groove rendition of "Easy (Like A Sunday Morning)," which, at the time, was a hit song for Lionel Richie & the Commadores.

Other peaks in this show include a compelling version of "Freedom," the song he made famous during his performance at Woodstock, and "Long Train Runnin'," The Doobie Brothers classic.