Richard P. “Richie” Havens (born January 21, 1941; died April 22, 2013) was an American folk singer and guitarist. He is best remembered for his intense, rhythmic guitar style (often in open tunings), soulful covers of pop and folk songs, and his opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
Born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Havens moved to Greenwich Village in 1961 in time to get in on the folk boom then taking place. Havens had a distinctive style as a folksinger, appearing in such clubs as the Cafe Wha? His guitar set to an open tuning, he would strum while barring chords with his thumb, using it essentially as percussion while singing rhythmically in a gruff voice for a mesmerizing effect. Havens was signed to Douglas Records in 1965 and recorded two albums that gained him a local following. In 1967, the Verve division of MGM Records formed a folk section (Verve Forecast) and signed Havens and other folk-based performers. The result was Havens’s third album, Mixed Bag. It wasn’t until 1968 and the Something Else Again album, however, that Havens began to hit the charts — actually, Havens’s fourth, third, and second albums charted that year, in that order. In 1969 came the double album Richard P. Havens 1983. Havens’ career benefited enormously from his appearance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 and his subsequent featured role in the movie and album made from the concert in 1970. His first album after that exposure, Alarm Clock, made the Top 30 and produced a Top 20 single in “Here Comes the Sun.” These recordings were Havens’s commercial high-water mark, but by this time he had become an international touring success. By the end of the ’70s, he had abandoned recording and turned entirely to live work.
Havens came back to records with a flurry of releases in 1987: a new album, Simple Things; an album of Bob Dylan and Beatles covers; and a compilation. In 1991, Havens signed his first major-label deal in 15 years when he moved to Sony Music and released Now.
On April 22, 2013, Havens died of a heart attack at home in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was 72.
* A Richie Havens Record (1965)
* Electric Havens (1966)
* Mixed Bag (February 1967)
* Something Else Again (1968)
* Richard P. Havens, 1983 (1969)
* Stonehenge (1970)
* Alarm Clock (1971)
* The Great Blind Degree (1971)
* Richie Havens On Stage (1972)
* Portfolio (1973)
* Mixed Bag II (January 1975)
* The End of the Beginning (1976)
* Mirage (1977)
* Connections (1980)
* Common Ground (1983)
* Simple Things (1987)
* Sings Beatles and Dylan (1987)
* Live at the Cellar Door (1990)
* Now (1991)
* Cuts to the Chase (1994)
* Time (1999)
* Wishing Well (April 2002)
* Grace of the Sun (2004)
* Please Don’t Touch by Steve Hackett (1978)
* Starlight Express Music and Songs from (1987)
* OVO by Peter Gabriel (2000) (Soundtrack to the Millennium Dome Show)
* “Freedom” on The Best of The Jammy’s Volume One w/ The Mutaytor
* “The Long Road” (Duet with Cliff Eberhardt) on Cliff’s 1990 album “The Long Road”)