expand Richie Havens

Born in Brooklyn, New York, the first of nine children, Richard P. Havens quickly jumped into performance with his great love of music. He went from organizing street corner doo-wop groups to singing with the McCrae Gospel Singers by the age of 16.  At 20, he and the Greenwich Village scene had found one another.

Richie's talent was noticed by Al Grossman who became his manager and landed him a record deal with Verve. His first LP, titled ‘Mixed Bag', was released in 1967 and featured Lou Gossett Jr. as co-author of the track 'Follow'.  

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By 1969, Richie had released five more albums, one of which, ‘Something Else Again’ (1968) became his first to hit the Billboard charts and brought the earlier ‘Mixed Bag’ onto the charts with it.

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A very exciting live performer, his invitation to open the show at 1969's Woodstock Music and Art Fair became a turning point in his life and career.  It is said he held the Woodstock crowd "spellbound for over three hours" and actually ran out of material. His signature tune 'Freedom' was made up on the spot in order to appease the crowd who kept demanding encore after encore. 

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In 1970, Richie began his own record label and his forays into acting, appearing in many films, the Who's Tommy among them.  He also began educating young people about ecology issues and opened a children's museum in the Bronx.  Richie is still playing, recording and touring. His record label, Stormy Forest, is still out there and releasing his tunes. Here's to you Richie!

Ruben Chandler