Mainly remembered as the first musician to play at the iconic 1969 Woodstock concert, does anyone still remember Richie Havens for his other “causes”?
By: Ringo Bones
To anyone with musicological and musical skills born way after the iconic 1969 Woodstock concert, we remember American folk icon Richie Havens more for his playing his trusty Guild D30 acoustic guitar in Open D tuning and opening up our minds to the pressing environmental and social issues that were topical since the 1960s. Despite opening for the 1969 Woodstock on August 15, 1969, the original Woodstock was remembered more for Jimi Hendrix than Richie Havens.
Sadly Richie Havens passed away back in April 22, 2013 of a heart attack. It is quite ironic that he passed away during this year’s Earth Day given he is as famous in the environmental causes front as in the folk rock music scene. Whenever he makes a guest appearance – like the 1970 Woodstock movie documentary and co-starring with Richard Pryor in the movie Greased Lightning, Richie Havens managed to recruit a new cadre of fans. For those born way after the 1969 Woodstock and came of age during the seminal days of the Seattle Grunge movement in the early 1990s, the younger generation of Richie Havens fans probably first saw him during the then US President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration back in January 1993 and later on, when Havens’ became the spokesperson on Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti – a utopian community designed in the middle of the desert for environmentally sustainable living. Sadly, Frank Lloyd Wright – inspired architect Paolo Soleri passed away earlier in April 9, 2013.
Richie Havens was still active musically and through his various environmental causes just weeks before he passed away. Whether you know him from the original 1969 Woodstock or on a mid 1990s Discovery Channel documentary about the environmentally sustainable utopian city of Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti, Richie Havens will surely be missed despite not being played out to death like his more famous contemporaries from the 1960s.