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Richie Havens

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Brooklyn NY, United States (1965 – 2013)

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.

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