By Alex HudsonFolk artist Richie Havens, who is remembered for being the first performer at Woodstock back in 1969, passed away today (April 22) of a heat attack at the age of 72.
Havens' representatives at the Roots Agency wrote on Facebook, "Rest in Peace the one and only Richie Havens. You will be missed. Thank you for your music."
Prior to his heart attack, the soul-influenced folksinger had been suffering from health issues in recent years. A previous update on his website noted that he had been unable to tour in recent years after having undergone kidney surgery.
Havens released a string of albums through the '60s and landed on the Billboard charts, and he reached an even wider audience after opening Woodstock in 1969 with a marathon performance. He continued to release albums over the years, in addition to working as a stage and film actor, and scored a hit with a cover of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun." His most recent album, Nobody Left to Crown, came out in 2008.
We'll leave you with the full statement regarding Havens' passing, along with a clip of him performing "Freedom" at Woodstock.
Beloved folk icon Richie Havens died this morning in his home from a sudden heart attack. He was 72.
Havens first became part of musical history during his impromptu opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Best known for his distinctive intense, rhythmic guitar style and soulful covers of pop and folk songs, Havens toured and recorded music for over 40 years before retiring from the road 3 years ago. Beyond his music, those who have met Havens will remember his gentle and compassionate nature, his light humour and his powerful presence.
While his family greatly appreciates that Richie's many fans are also mourning this loss, they do ask for privacy during this difficult time.
A public memorial will be planned for a later date.