Richie Havens, the Woodstock folk singer who opened the iconic music festival in 1969, is now forever a part of the Woodstock landscape.
On Saturday, an airplane scattered Richie Havens’ ashes over the field where he opened the festival over 44 years ago on August 15, 1969. Thirty family members and 1,000 fans attended the memorial, according to a report in the Times Herald-Record.
Daughter Dhalia Havens told the newspaper: “I feel he was most happy on this [Woodstock] stage out of all the places he performed…so we felt this is the place he wanted to be forever.”
The Woodstock festival crowd of around 450,000 then represented the largest ever musical audience in human history. The other performers weren’t ready to take the stage, so Havens had to hold the attention of the chaotic gathering for almost three hours.
The result was a show that made Richie Havens’ name and earned him an enduring place in music history.
His wife Nancy said simply that the ashes scattering was the final goodbye.
We have a full report on Richie Havens’ passing on April 22. The 72-year-old singer from Brooklyn died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey.
But he had already retired from touring over a year before because of age and health issues.
The plane reportedly made four passes, dropping Havens’ ashes on the third pass. On the fourth and final pass, the pilot tilted the wings in a final farewell wave.
Drum circle on Woodstock field during scattering of Richie Havens ashes http://t.co/g2zovTj5Va
— PhanArt Pete (@PhanArt) August 18, 2013
Here’s some Richie Havens 1969 Woodstock footage that made its meandering way to YouTube over the decades:
Here’s the famous Freedom performance that mesmerized the festival:
Richie Havens’ ashes were scattered on August 18 because that day was the 44th anniversary of the final day of the original Woodstock festival that shot the singer to enduring fame.
[Richie Havens performance photo by Heinrich Klaffs via Wikimedia]