Richie Havens (1941-2013)

On April 22nd, Earth Day, musician Richie Havens passed away at the age of 72 (see the CNN article here). He was an energetic man, a folk music icon, an amazing performer and a very kind person. I had the pleasure of meeting him once at a show and seeing him perform twice more at concerts. If you knew of his life and work, you know that he will be missed. And if you don’t know about him I’d encourage you to at least take a look at his website and listen to some of his music.


I first learned of Richie because of my Uncle, who lived the hippie lifestyle in the 60’s. As a child, I was shown a VHS tape of the Woodstock performance and there was one thing that stood out to me from that experience…..the toothless guy who sang ‘Freedom’. When I was a teenager, Richie Havens was performing a show at the former Bodles Opera House. It was a small venue and we were able to sit really close to him…….and I was blown away with his performance. After the show we got to hang out with him at the bar and talk for a bit. Awesome!!


The man was awesome. He was so genuine and kind and joyful. He was this skinny and tall old guy……but he was a mountain of a man and wisdom just poured from his words. After seeing the show, I went out and bought some of his albums and sadly….I didn’t really enjoy them. His live performances were SO MUCH BETTER than what was recorded. Though…..he did create one album which I feel is his best piece of work, and that is his last album “Nobody Left to Crown”. Of course, the song ‘Freedom’ isn’t on there….but you can purchase that separately if you’d like.


All in all, Richie Havens was a great man and a great musician. It’s too bad he didn’t make it further in this life but it is fitting that he died on Earth Day. If you’re a fan, you’ll love him for life. And if you don’t know about him, I highly recommend that you watch some of his videos and give a listen to a few of his albums.


“It’s a brand new world, and it’s just beginning again, but on such a wonderful level of being able to communicate with each other directly, being able to talk to people all over the world,” – Richie Havens