Folk singer and activist Ritchie Havens has passed away at the age of 72.
Coming of age in the Civil Rights era, Ritchie Havens found his musical voice amid an atmosphere dominated by political and social upheaval. Choosing to reflect this in his music, the singer found critical acclaim and a cult following before an appearance at Woodstock changed his life.
Asked to open the festival, Ritchie Havens turned in a performance which lasted almost three hours. A meditative, heavily improvisatory set it culminated with his rendition of 'Motherless Child' - re-tooled for the Flower generation as 'Freedom'.
An iconic moment in pop history, the deeply independent artist formed his own imprint Stormy Weather in 1970. Continuing to write and record, Ritchie Havens' discography contains some 25 studio albums as well as countless live recordings.
Asked to perform at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993, the songwriter continued to work as an activist throughout his life. Suffering a heart attack yesterday morning (April 22nd) the singer was pronounced dead at his Brooklyn home - he was 72.
A statement from Richie Havens' family claims that plans for a public memorial are under way.