Richie Havens

Richard Pierce "Richie" Havens ( born January 21, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York City, † April 22, 2013 in Jersey City, New Jersey) was an American folk singer.


Richie Havens was born as the eldest of nine children in Bedford -Stuyvesant, a district of Brooklyn, in a family of artists. His father was a pianist. Beginning with fourteen years Richie Havens sang in various gospel formations, including at the McCrea Gospel Singers, which strongly influenced his later style as a musician. Besides his passion for music showed Havens also a talent for painting, which he as a portrait artist in the streets of Greenwich Village to took a few years to earn his livelihood.


There in Greenwich Village Richie Havens was regularly seen in the folk scene that produced other famous singers such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. As Black, he was an exception to the white-dominated field of folk.

He had brought out with the British Music Label Douglas His first two albums. Due to his appearance at the Woodstock Festival, he then came to sudden fame. At 17:07 he opened the festival. The whole time he was applauded, he played so long encores until he ran out of songs. Then he decided, a version of the Spirituals Motherless Child (English, mutatis mutandis, to a child without mother) to improvise, to which he added a verse in which he again repeated the word Freedom (English for freedom ). This song became an international hit. The representation in the film Woodstock, Havens had played a total of 3 hours, but is wrong. In fact, he played 11 songs in 45 minutes.

Furthermore, Havens was known by the interpretation of songs by other artists, especially from Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Although relatively he wrote many songs, he celebrated his greatest successes mostly with these interpretations. So with the 1980 cover of Lamont Dozier - songs Going back to my roots.

More work

In 1972, Richie Havens his own record label named Stormy Forest, on the published some of his albums. In 1978, he sang two pieces on Steve Hackett Please Do not Touch panel! .

From the late 1970s, the new publications were irregular. During this time he began to pay more attention to his other artistic talents. He was considered among others as a recognized actor, writer, painter and sculptor. Another striking point in his career he experienced in 1993, when he appeared at the inauguration of U.S. President Bill Clinton. He was also seen in a guest role in an episode of the American sitcom Married with Children; he also played three tracks for the soundtracks of the successful PC games series Tex Murphy: Pandora Directive and Tex Murphy: Overseer a (Tex 's Lament, Trying to try, Slow Down ).

In the mid-seventies, Richie Havens helped the Northwinds Undersea Institute, to call a museum of oceanography to life. His commitment to environmental protection, he proved with the establishment of the environmental organization Natural Guard in 1990. This has set itself the goal of motivating young people to become involved in environmental protection.

Havens died at the age of 72 years to a heart attack.


Characteristic was his guitar playing with an open D tuning. Chords he played mostly with the thumb. He put the guitar in like a percussion instrument.