Richie Havens Dies; Folk Singer Was 72

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Richie Havens has died.

The folk singer-guitarist, who shot to fame as the first act at the 1969 Woodstock festival, succumbed to a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, N.J.

He was 72.

Richie Havens Photo

A statement on his official website confirmed his death and announced that a public memorial to honor his career is being planned for a future date.

"Beyond his music, those who have met Havens will remember his gentle and compassionate nature, his light humor and his powerful presence," it said.

Havens' career spanned five decades and more two dozen albums featuring his signature, intense rhythmic guitar style and soulful covers of pop and folk songs.

Havens built a devoted following on the Greenwich Village folk circuit in the early 1960s prior to his famous gig as the opening act at the original Woodstock.

Enrapturing the crowd for nearly three solid hours, this cemented his career, playing his seminal song "Freedom" for the encore as well as a number of Beatles hits.

After Woodstock, the singer started his own record label and released Alarm Clock, which was his first album to reach the Billboard Top 30 chart.

In the '70s, Havens tried his hand at acting as well.

He will be missed.

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