Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/23/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Prompted to play when other performers were tied up in traffic, Havens set tone for historic festival

He was kind, he was humble and he was a good musician, his friends all agree. While his career was long and far-reaching, Richie Haven was granted immortality by being the first performer to take to the stage at the historic Woodstock Music Festival in upstate New York in August of 1969. It was all a matter of being in the right place at the right time, he insisted. Havens has died from a heart attack he suffered at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was 72. 

Richie Havens was originally slated to be the fifth act on the first day of Woodstock in August of 1969. Havens and two members of his band were pressed into service when the original opening acts were stuck in traffic.

Richie Havens was originally slated to be the fifth act on the first day of Woodstock in August of 1969. Havens and two members of his band were pressed into service when the original opening acts were stuck in traffic.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

4/23/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Music

Keywords: Richie Havens, Woodstock, musician, death

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Woodstock, billed as "Three Days of Peace and Music" drew a crowd of half a million people, many of whom camped out long in advance to catch their favorite musicians. The unexpected huge turnout overwhelmed the surrounding area, jamming traffic to the event.

Havens was originally slated to be the fifth act on the first day. Havens and two members of his band were pressed into service when the original opening acts were stuck in traffic.

Havens, guitarist Paul Williams and drummer Daniel Ben Zebulon went before the restless crowd and opened with his signature song, "Handsome Johnny." Havens gave a marathon performance with several encores to buy time for fellow performers still struggling to reach the venue. His performance of "Freedom/Motherless Child" was well received by the audience, who felt frustration of the current social status quo.

After playing three solid hours, Havens had run out of material. Tuning his guitar, he racked his brain trying to figure out which song to play next. 

"I had sung all the songs I knew," he recalled in a 1993 interview, "but then I started thinking about the concept of freedom. I thought that we had made a mistake in thinking that freedom was something we needed to obtain instead of realizing that we already had it. That was my inspiration, and I started singing the word 'freedom' and went on from there."

Woodstock featured revolutionary performances by Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

"Richie Havens was one of the nicest, most generous and pure individuals I have ever met," Stephen Stills said in a statement. "He always caught fire every time he played."

Among Haven's many albums, "Alarm Clock," featured Havens' biggest hit single, his cover of George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun." He was also known for his interpretations of material by Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.

Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Havens recorded television commercial jingles for companies including Amtrak and McDonald's. He is survived by three daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Music

Pope Francis: The rap star? Amazing new pop album featuring the pontiff is released in Italy Watch

Image of It is not know if Pope Francis enjoys the finished product of


As Pope Francis is a talented orator, holding audiences spellbound, it was only a matter of time before someone put his words behind a catchy beat to send out to the faithful worldwide. Released at the end of September, the album has been listened to at least a ... continue reading

Three Dog Night founder Cory Wells dies at 74 Watch

Image of Cory Wells' story was one of musical talent overcoming almost insurmountable odds.


Cory Wells, one of the original founders of the Seventies super group Three Dog Night, has passed away at the age of 74. Wells had been performing with the band as recently as last month, when he complained of severe back pain. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading

8-year-old jazz singer captivates the world with her soulful 'Amy Winehouse' voice Watch

Image of


Angelina Jordan is well-known in her home country, Norway, after participating and winning a national TV contest. But now, the 8-year-old jazz singer has captivated audiences from all over the the world after a recently uploaded video of her performance. The young girl ... continue reading

Chris Brown tired of the Devil in his life: Singer claims he heard God speak for the first time Watch

Image of Chris Brown performing onstage


Chris Brown recently posted on his Instagram account that he was tired of the "devil ruining" his life. The international singer and actor shows indications of leaning towards a better chapter in his life. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Singer Chris ... continue reading

Rio de Janeiro's music scene enters new depths with a surprising sound Watch

Image of


Something big is brewing in Rio de Janeiro. The monthly hip-hop block party called Black Santa was recently staged near the peak of the Prazeres favela, on a hillside above central Rio. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Twenty-two-year-old Renato Cantanhede, ... continue reading

Two top named musicians set to perform for Pope Francis during his September visit to the United States Watch

Image of Juanes has more than 10 million followers on Twitter.


Colombian star Juanes and the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will be performing during the international Catholic prayer event, the 8th World Meeting of Families, in Philadelphia. The two will be performing for the Pope in September during the U.S leg of his ... continue reading

Famous country singer dead after gunfight with bounty hunter Watch

Image of


Sixty-five-year-old country singer Randy Howard was shot on June 9, 2015 by a bounty hunter at Howard's home. It was reported that Howard was being detained by the bounty hunter, wanted on a DUI charge. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Country singer Randy ... continue reading

'She was absolutely beautiful in every way': Fans pray for country singer after death of his newborn daughter Watch

Image of


Messages of encouragement and prayers pour through the Facebook page of country singer Randy Rogers, of the Randy Rogers' Band, after news of the death of his and his wife's newborn infant six days after she was born come forward. Days before, Rogers made an ... continue reading

U2 prays with Pastor Rick Warren before playing concert hours after death of their beloved tour manager Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heartbroken and in grief band members of U2 asked Pastor Rick Warren to pray with them before going onstage hours after the death of their tour manager. Dennis Sheehan, U2's longtime tour manager, was found dead in his hotel room, last week in Los Angeles. Sheehan ... continue reading

ValLimar Jansen's latest album 'a soulful experience'

Image of

By Kelcee Marcum, Oregon Catholic Press

A unique mixture of genres, ValLimar Jansen's latest album, "Spirit & Soul," contains elements from gospel and praise and worship while escaping the confines of either genre. PORTLAND, Ore. (OCP) - "This is not a gospel record or even a praise and worship record, ... continue reading

All Music News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Opium, heroin or cocaine: What drug is YOUR country known for?
  • St. Eligius: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • 'Body lifted from the ground': Young Central American woman dies ...
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Pope Francis does the unthinkable following emotional tragedy in ...
  • Prayer For Faith HD Video
  • Parents' Prayer For Their Children HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:1, 7-8, 12-13, 17
1 [Of Solomon] God, endow the king with your own fair judgement, the son ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:21-24
21 Just at this time, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said, 'I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 1st, 2015 Image

St. Eligius
December 1: Eligius (also known as Eloi) was born around 590 ... Read More