On August 18, Richie Havens’ ashes were loaded onto a plane and scattered across a few famous acres in Bethel, NY. It was a fitting tribute for Havens, whose performance at the Woodstock Festival — held on those very same acres in 1969 — helped transform him from an underground coffeehouse folksinger to an international star exactly 44 years earlier.
Havens could write his own music, but he truly came alive whenever he interpreted other people’s tunes. With his open-tuned guitar and booming baritone, he could push folk classics and familiar pop songs into new territory. You believed whatever he sang, even if he didn’t write it. It was the voice that mattered.
Before his health took a dip, Havens booked some studio time at Harlem’s City College and recorded two final albums. Both titles — …His Last Songs and Mixed Bag For Kids, are due out on October 29. Before that Tuesday arrives, though, you can download his version of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” sung with the soulful conviction of a man who’s seen, done and heard it all.
Pick up your free download here by entering the password “Freedom.”