Richie Havens (1941-2013)

Folk legend Richie Havens passed away yesterday from a heart attack at the age of 72. Havens inadvertently played himself into history when he opened the music festival at Woodstock in 1969 when the bands scheduled to open were late to the venue. It was at Woodstock where he improvised his now famous song “Freedom,” which referenced the African-American spiritual “Motherless Child.” GREAT PERFORMANCES was fortunate enough to feature Mr. Havens on three separate programs: The Music Makers: An ASCAP Celebration of American Music on October 16, 1987, Peter, Paul and Mary: Lifelines on March 4, 1996 and most recently on Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Celebration in August 2009.

Watch Richie Havens perform his iconic song “Freedom” from the GREAT PERFORMANCES presentation of Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Celebration.