April 23, 2013 9:21

Richie Havens dies aged 72

Folk singer was opening act at Woodstock in 1969

Richie Havens dies aged 72

Photo: PA

Richie Havens has died aged 72 following a heart attack, it has been confirmed.

The US folk musician was perhaps best known for being the opening act at the Woodstock festival in 1969. The singer's talent agency confirmed that Havens had died at home in New Jersey. Having spent four decades performing live and releasing music, Havens retired three years ago in 2010. His family have asked for privacy and have confirmed details of a public memorial will be announced shortly.

"Beyond his music, those who have met Havens will remember his gentle and compassionate nature, his light humour and his powerful presence," a family statement said. Havens talent agency added that their client had been "gifted with one of the most recognisable voices in popular music." Adding: "His fiery, poignant, soulful singing style has remained unique and ageless."

Havens's was known for performing covers on his acoustic guitar and an improvised version of gospel song 'Motherless Child' became 'Freedom at Woodstock', an anthem for the hippy generation in the 1960s. A different version of the song was included on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's Oscar nominated movie Django Unchained. Havens released more than 25 albums and also recorded covers of Bob Dylan's 'Just Like a Woman' and 'Here Comes the Sun' by The Beatles as well as performing at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.


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