MP3: Richie Havens - Freedom
Richie Havens is a completely legendary and yet stupidly underrated figure in the history of modern rock music. After rising to fame in the same Greenwich Village folk clubs as Dylan and Baez, Havens became the first performer to take the stage at the original Woodstock festival. He was set to play a short set, but due to delays and continuous ovations went on to play for 3 hours. After he'd ran out of songs he improvised over a song called Freedom and thus set the scene for the festival as well as creating his most famous hit.
Havens brings to folk the rhythm and soul of black music that, let's be honest, all those pansy white boys like Dylan wouldn't really get into for years to come. Most noticeable are Havens wild and frenetic guitar rhythms, which often make him sound like he's got a full band backing him up when usually he's just alone with his guitar. The reason that Havens never really rose to further fame seems to be that he often relied on re-interpretting standards by Dylan and The Beatles rather than (like The Byrds) expanding to improve his own catalogue of songs. It's a shame really because his records are getting harder to find, and they really contain a sense of passion that's missing from some of the recorded work of his contemporaries.
Havens was best known as a live performer, but you can still get a great sense of his amazing style from his recorded material. He continues to write and record new music today, as well as continuing to tour, so if you've any sense whatsoever you'll make the effort to find out more. Haven's has also recently released an autobiography, which I have yet to read but i've heard is excellent stuff for any 60s/70s folk fan.
The MP3s are first of all a song called The Klan which was performed for Havens 1968 release Something Else Again, and is absolutely amazing. Next we have two live tracks from the 1972 double live album Richie Havens On Stage, the songs being Where Have All The Flowers Gone (written by Pete Seeger) and the White Album classic Rocky Raccoon. Great stuff. If you like this then I'd really recommend you check out Havens Woodstock performance on DVD, because it's just immense. One of the greatest live performance of all time, no question about it.
For a couple of really interesting articles on Havens, you can look here or here. For his official site take a peek at richiehavens.com. For some lovely unofficial action you can try here, here or here. Enjoy.
Download: The Klan - MP3 3.53mb (rapidshare)
Download: Where Have All The Flowers Gone? (live) - MP3 6.18mb (rapidshare)
Download: Rocky Raccoon (live) - MP3 4.00mb (rapidshare)
Records: (what's available on amazon.co.uk)
Mixed Bag (1967)
Alarm Clock (1971)
Live At The Cellar Door 1970 (1990)
Wishing Well (2002)
Grace Of The Sun (2004)
They Can't Hide Us Anymore (book)