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NOD TO THE GODS: Richie Havens, ‘Freedom’
April 28, 2013
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This week on The Strombo Show, our Nod To The Gods is in honour of Richie Havens - the man who set the tone for Woodstock.

It was more than 40 years ago, on Max Yasgur's dairy farm on the Catskills, near the hamlet of White Lake Folk, in the town of Bethel, New York...

Havens, wearing a dashiki and strumming on the open-tuned strings of his guitar, kicked off the festival at 5:07 pm on Friday, August 15, 1969. He held the crowd for nearly three hours, partly because the artists were delayed in reaching the festival's location and also because he was asked back for several encores.

In a career that spanned more than four decades, Havens was best known for his intense and rhythmic guitar style and soulful covers of pop and folk songs, including Bob Dylan's 'Just Like A Woman' and 'Here Comes The Sun' by The Beatles.

He released more than 25 albums; his last was 'Nobody Left To Crown' in 2008.

Along the way, he performed at Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration in 1993, the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1999 and the 2008 opening of the Cannes Film Festival.

There, he performed for his friend and fan, Sean Penn, singing one of his signature songs 'Freedom' - which was an improvisation he did at Woodstock of an old African American spiritual song 'Motherless Child'.

In 2009, Havens returned to the site of the original Woodstock to celebrate the festival's 40th anniversary - where he reprised 'Freedom'.

In 2010, he had kidney surgery and didn't recover well enough to perform as before. In March of last year, he announced he would stop touring after 45 years due to health concerns.

Richie Havens died Monday from a heart attack. He was 72.

For further musical musings, new and old, join the collective for The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2, every Sunday night at 8pm. And if you want to catch up or re-listen, all of the episodes are archived on our Radio page.

Related:

NOD TO THE GODS: Stompin' Tom Connors, 'Sudbury Saturday Night'

NOD TO THE GODS: Neil Young, 'Comes A Time'

NOD TO THE GODS: Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash, 'Girl From The North Country'

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