Folk music icon Richie Havens died this morning in his home from a sudden heart attack, his press representative confirms to Radio.com. He was 72.
Havens first became part of musical history during his impromptu opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. During his three hour performance at that festival, he did an impromptu version of the traditional “Motherless Child” changing bits of the lyrics and music. The song eventually became known as “Freedom,” one of his most popular songs. Other signature songs included his take on the Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” and Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman.” Throughout his career, he put his own spin on well known songs, from the Bee Gees’ “I Started A Joke” to Pink Floyd’s “On The Turning Away.”
Best known for his distinctive intense, rhythmic guitar style and soulful vocals, Havens toured and recorded music for over 40 years before retiring from the road 3 years ago.
A public memorial will be planned for a later date.
— Brian Ives, Radio.com