Richie Havens 1941-2013

Who didn’t get goosebumps and have the hair stand up on the back of their neck at least once during a viewing of Richie Haven’s Handsome Johnny, and the iconic Freedom (Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,) when he was the opening act at Woodstock?

Who else in popular music picked up a guitar and made the most out of doing the songs of other well-known artists, but could still be defined as a one of a kind original?

That rich, fertile baritone voice is now forever silenced. That amazing fretting thumb that turned Open D tuning into an ocean of ringing tone, and the phrasing that made each song seem like his was the way it was always meant to be, have rang the walls for the last time.

Rest in peace, Richie. I am grateful we will have a record of your art, even if it is but a tiny collection of your many, many performances.

Like this one, when you appeared on a bill with the biggest stars of your era and came out to play one, solo song at Columbia Records Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden, and showed them what it meant to have true class and genuine style all your own.


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