Richie Havens Dead: First-Ever Woodstock Performer Was 72

Celebrity News Apr. 22, 2013 AT 6:10PM
Richie Havens Richie Havens Credit: Jean-Marc Lubrano

Richie Havens died of a sudden heart attack at his Jersey City home on Monday, Apr. 22, Us Weekly has confirmed. The folk music icon was 72.

"While his family greatly appreciates that Richie's many fans are also mourning this loss, they do ask for privacy during this difficult time," Havens' rep says in a statement. "A public memorial will be planned for a later date."

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Born in Brooklyn in 1941, Havens made history as the first-ever performer at the three-day Woodstock Festival in 1969. Known for his intense, rhythmic guitar skills, Havens toured for 45 years until his retirement in 2010. Throughout his career, the musician became known for his song covers, most notably Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman."

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In 2012, Havens recorded the song "Freedom Motherless Child" for director Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. The track appeared in the film, though it was not included on the official soundtrack. To date, Havens has released more than 25 albums, the last being 2008's Nobody Left to Crown.

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"I really sing songs that move me," Havens once told The Denver Post. "I'm not in show business; I'm in the communications business. That's what it's about for me."

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