Since I came of musical age in the mid-60’s, the topic of this week’s post is a no brainer: yet another nostalgic farewell to yet another musician of my era. This time it is Richie Havens who has moved on to the concert stage in the sky after dying earlier in the week at just 72.
Living in Manila, I was only exposed to the “superstars” of the time. When I graduated high school in early 1970, I had never heard of Richie Havens. That changed a few months later.
A popular way to come to the U.S. for college was to take an American President Lines cruise which took about two weeks and featured stops in Hong Kong, Japan, and Hawaii. I’m more interested in land exploration so I opted to take two weeks to get to the U.S. by flying, with one week stops in Hong Kong and Hawaii.
Since I’d been to Hong Kong at least three times by the time I graduated high school, I could enjoy it at my leisure. One day, I came upon a movie theater showing “Woodstock” (with Chinese subtitles). Since I had become politically radicalized, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to at least vicariously participate in what would become an iconic event of counter culture history.
I’m sure thousands of other folks became Richie Havens fans after watching his passionate performance of “Freedom” at Woodstock. After playing for over two and a half hours because other performers had been delayed in arriving, he had run out of material to play. So he improvised “Freedom” from the slave era spiritual “Motherless Child” and a classic was born.
Here’s that historic performance:
Richie Havens’ special talent was to bring a special interpretation to other artist’s songs.
Here’s his version of Bob Bylan’s classic, Just Like a Woman:
Here’s Richie performing Cat Steven’s “Peace Train”:
A band many folks may not be familiar with is 10cc. One of my favorites from them is “I”m Not in Love” which has a dreamy,orchestral presentation. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the original version.
And here’s Richie’s version:
Joe Cocker is one of my favorite vocalists and I was lucky to see him perform at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas in 1998. (Of course I kept the ticket stub!) Here’s Richie’s interpretation of “So Beautiful” as he neared the end of his performing career:
You are so beautiful to so many Richie!