Monday, April 22, 2013

Richie's Got a Telephone in His Bosom And He Can Call HIM Up From His Heart

As a student of history and a student of the Sixties, I do my bit to write about the '69 Woodstock Festival once every year on its Anniversary in August.

Today's an exception, and a sad one at that:  Richie Havens, the opening act of the Woodstock, has passed on.

Havens was an important reason for why the festival turned out the way it did: all the disasters and accidents that made the opening hours a near catastrophe were dispelled once the performers got on stage and worked the growing crowds.

He was only meant to play about a half-hour's worth of stuff.  But due to traffic snafus and such many of the bands hadn't gotten to Max Yasgur's farm, so the organizers kept asking Havens to add a few more encores.  When he ran out of material, he went to calling up a blues spiritual "Motherless Child" and mixing his own improvised lyrics to it.  He came up with "Freedom" right there on the spot.

His signature moment.

There's not much else to say but he's at home now.

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