U.S. folk musician Richie Havens, famous for opening the historic 1969 Woodstock
musical festival with his version of "Motherless Child/Freedom," died of a heart attack on Monday at the age of 72, his talent agency said.
Havens was a songwriter who co-wrote "Handsome Johnny," with actor Lou Gossett Jr., and he was also known for covering and rearranging songs. He created his own versions of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman," "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Here Comes the Sun."
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"Music is the major form of communication," he told Rolling Stone in 1968
. "It's the commonest vibration, the people's news broadcast, especially for kids."
Havens' talent landed him performances before the Dalai Lama and President Bill Clinton.
"Beyond his music, those who have met Havens will remember his gentle and compassionate nature, his light humour and his powerful presence," his family said of the singer, who died at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey.
People on social media and blogs paid tribute to the late Woodstock artist.
The Los Angeles Times took an in-depth look at Havens' influence on the music scene
when he broke out in the late '60s, and how "Freedom, Freedom" spoke to an entire generation that was trudging through an unpopular war.
National Public Radio published a 2008 interview with Havens, when he recalled performing at Woodstock.
TIME magazine has a series of photos from the Woodstock festival
on their website.
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