Richie HavensFolk | 2006
Born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Richie Havens moved to Greenwich Village in 1961 in time to get in on the folk boom. He had a distinctive style as a folksinger—with his guitar set to an opening tuning, he would strum it while barring chords with his thumb, using it essentially as percussion while singing rhythmically in his unique voice. Havens recorded two albums for Douglas Records in 1965 that gained him a local following. In 1967, the Verve division of MGM Records formed a folk section and signed Havens. The result was the legendary album Mixed Bag. It wasn’t until 1968 and the Something Else Again album, however, that all of his Verve LPs charted. Havens appeared at Woodstock in 1969—he was featured in the film and album documenting the event—and that exposure catapulted his next album into the Top 30 and produced a Top 20 single in a cover of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.” Throughout the 1970s, Havens would record a dozen albums for three labels—including his own, Stormy Forest—that featured his unique interpretations. In the 1980s, he lessened his recording output and turned his attention almost entirely to live performances. Havens came back with a flurry of releases in the late 1980s, and he received a Grammy nomination for his 2004 CD Grace of the Sun. He continued to maintain a very active touring schedule in his later years. He died in 2013 at age 72.