Richie Havens and George Jones: two great voices fall silent

April 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm (Jim D, music, RIP, song, Soul, United States)

1/ Richie Havens

• Richard Pierce Havens, folk singer and guitarist, born 21 January 1941; died 22 April 2013

Richie Havens, who has died of a heart attack aged 72, is best known for his opening performance at the historic 1969 Woodstock festival. He had been scheduled to go on fifth, but major traffic snarl-ups delayed many of the performers, so he was put on first and told to perform a lengthy set.

He entranced the audience for three hours, being called back time and again for encores. With his repertoire exhausted, he improvised a song based on the spiritual Motherless Child. This became Freedom, his best known song and an anthem for a generation (from the Graun‘s obituary)

2/ George Jones

• George Glenn Jones, country singer, born 12 September 1931; died 26 April 2013

George Jones, who has died aged 81, was country music’s most stylish and emotional singer. Less well-known outside the genre than his one-time wife Tammy Wynette, he had one of the finest voices of the 20th century. He was the king of honky-tonk, the raw electric country style, and was in a direct line from Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams (again from the Graun‘s obit, written in this case by Hank Wangford).


  1. Jim Denham said,

    What’s “Professor” Stanley Unwin doing introducing the Richie Havens Woodstock clip?

  2. Mick O said,

    Beats me Jim. I saw the Woodstock movie UK premiere and I don’t recall Unwin. He did feature on a Small Faces album in the 1960s so could have worked with others in the music business. Can’t explain this though.

    • Jim Denham said,

      You’re right, Mick:

      “But his defining moments were to come towards the end of the decade from two distinctly different movements – Psychedelia and Supermarionation. In 1968, he recorded the part of the Narrator on the 20-minute, six-track opus on Side Two of the Small Faces’ ground-breaking ‘Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake’ album, and a year later, he starred playing himself and his own puppet in Gerry Anderson’s strangely overlooked ‘religious’ detective series ‘The Secret Service'”

  3. Matthew Blott said,

    I was a little sad upon hearing of the death of Havens a few days ago. He had terrific acoustic skills and a great voice and seemed like a really nice guy. Interesting fact: he revealed in one interview I watched that he had a British grandmother. Here’s my favourite of his, Johnny Handsome at Woodstock …

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