Folk artist Richie Havens opening the Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, New York on August 15, 1969. Havens died on April 22, 2013.
Richie Havens,the first act to hit the stage at Woodstock, died of a heart attack on Monday, April 22. He was 72. In an earlier post, I explained in depth of my respect for Richie, complete with video. From the beginning, when he played Village folk clubs in the mid-Sixties, Havens stood out  because of the rhythmic style in with he played the guitar. Havens, played piano; as a teenager,and eventually wound up in Greenwich Village.playing the folk clubs.

Havens wasn't supposed to be the first act to open the festival; that slot originally was intended for the band Sweetwater, but that band wound up being stuck in traffic. Backstage, co-organizer Michael Lang approached Havens and practically begged him to go on instead. "It had to be Richie – I knew he could handle it," Lang later wrote.

An article in Rolling Stone states that after performing a half-dozen songs, Havens ran out of material – Havens began chanting that word Freedom over and over and eventually segued into the gospel song "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" which he had heard in church as a child. It later became a highlight of the Woodstock movie,