He became a cultural icon in 1969 when he was the first artist to perform at the Woodstock festival, playing for nearly three hours because later acts failed to turn up.
Havens’ first album was released in 1965 and he broke through with his third release, Mixed Bag, in 1967. He was noted for his heavy rhythmic style of playing guitar. Nobody Left To Crown, his last record, came out in 2008.
He’d been unwell since undergoing kidney surgery in 2010.
A statement explains: “Beloved folk icon Richie Havens died this morning in his home from a sudden heart attack. He was 72.
“He toured and recorded music for over 40 years, before retiring from the road three years ago. Beyond his music, those who met him 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.”
Stephen Stills, who performed at Woodstock as part of Crosby, Stills and Nash, said: “Richie Havens was one of the nicest, most generous and pure individuals I have ever met. He was very wise in the ways of our calling – he always caught fire every time he played.”
A public memorial will be announced in due course.
-Classic Rock Magazine