Richie Havens Dead at 72

(Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Folk/Rock singer, songwriter and guitarist Richie Havens reportedly passed away today at the age of 72. Havens was perhaps best known for his three-hour opening set at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.

Over the course of his career, Havens recorded 21 studio albums and toured for nearly 45 years, until last year when he was sidelined with complications from kidney surgery.

While not someone who would be classified as a jazz musician, Havens was the first musician I ever saw at Jazz Alley in Seattle (prom night, 1997). He closed with a solo version of his famed “Freedom (Motherless Child)”, a performance I will not soon forget.

The announcement from Havens’ representatives, The Roots Agency:

Richie Havens was gifted with one of the most recognizable voices in popular music. His fiery, poignant, soulful singing style has remained unique and ageless since his historic appearance at Woodstock in 1969. For four decades, Havens used his music to convey passionate messages of brotherhood and personal freedom. Billboard Magazine writes, “This acoustic soul giant truly seems to be getting more inspiring and graceful with age.” From Woodstock to The Isle of Wight to Glastonbury to the Fillmore Auditorium to Royal Albert Hall to Carnegie Hall, Richie played the most legendary music festivals that ever were, and most of the world’s greatest concert venues. But even when performing in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse or a small club or regional theater, he was eternally grateful that people in any number turned up each time to hear him sing. More than anything, he feels incredibly blessed to have met so many of you along the way.