US & Canada

Richie Havens: Your memories

Richie Havens, the folk singer who opened the legendary 1969 Woodstock rock festival, has died of a heart attack at 72.

He died at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Here, BBC news website readers remember the musician famous for his distinctive guitar and singing style.

Charles Lombardo, Madison, Wisconsin, US

Image caption Charles Lombardo with his original Woodstock tickets from 1969

I was 25-years-old and I'd just got out of the military. I was going through a rebellious stage. My best friend and I decided to head to Woodstock in a new Corvette. We ended up staying there for five days!

Richie Havens was amazing. I remember sitting on earth listening to him for hours non-stop because other performers were late. Great voice. In fact nothing compares to that voice.

I woke up Monday morning to Jimi Hendrix playing the American anthem to an almost empty field. I didn't mind being woken up!

I've travelled the world and nothing compares with Woodstock. And, yes, I do feel I was a part of history by being there.

I would say it changed my life. I think from then on I continued to challenge things. I worked in government for over 20 years trying to do right for people.

Roman Steven Toczyski, Chester, UK

I was at Woodstock helping to put the event together, by building stages and gantries.

It remains a formative stage in my life and the feeling generated there has informed my whole life to this day.

I remember Richie Havens' performance, as it provided a soundtrack to the day, which can best be described as organised chaos.

I had never seen him perform before and he genuinely became an influence and a thread throughout my life.

I spoke to him once or twice that day and he was a very unassuming and unpretentious person, unlike many other performers there.

So I was very sad to hear of his passing.

Huckleberry Muckelroy, Houston, Texas, US

I saw Richie Havens perform at Woodstock.

He was someone we loved long before Woodstock, so it was heart-warming to see him as the first musical act.

We were about two-thirds of the way up towards the stage in the middle of about 200,000 people.

While Richie was the first musical act, the first performer on stage was [religious teacher] Swami Satchitananda, who got booed off, so Richie could do no wrong when he came on.

He was great that day. He was just a really mellow guy and was so down to earth.

The people I went to school with were into a lot of underground music which was played on FM radio, including the Grateful Dead and Richie.

He had a real influence on me as a musician.

Other comments

"I'm rather devastated. I met Richie in 1985 and I managed to have him singing in a few Italian productions, including Pino Daniele. We travelled together in Europe and the US for gigs and for fun. He was an amazing person" Alex di Martino, London, UK, and Rome, Italy

"I was fascinated by the voice the first time I watched the Woodstock film and was lucky enough to see him live 10 years ago at the Jazz Café in London. That voice just filled my whole body! Another sad loss." Paul Cave, Leicester, UK

"My son and I met Richie Havens at a festival a couple of years ago. His performance was powerful and thought-provoking, yet he was kind and gentle when he signed my son's programme, with the words 'to a friend'. His legacy is his music, long will it last." Nick Haidememos, Newbold Verdon, UK

"Very sad news about the passing of Richie Havens, an interpreter of many genres of music. From roots to folk to rock to soul to jazz. Thank you for your contributions, you'll be sadly missed." Steve, Bromley, UK

"Who can forget that voice? It left an indelible impression on anyone who heard him. I remember hearing a TV commercial soundtrack that he did some years back. I knew instantly that it was him. RIP Richie and thanks." Richard Girard, Udall, Kansas, US

"Richie Havens was not only a tremendous artist but also an extremely compassionate and kind person who loved to talk about the power of music and poetry with his many fans. I will always remember introducing Mr Havens to my 15-year-old-son just about two years ago after a wonderful performance at The Winery in New York city. My son kidded with him about first seeing him at Woodstock, which brought a big smile and laugh from Mr Havens." Keith Barnett, Morganville, New Jersey, US

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