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The musical world lost a great voice yesterday when Richie Havens passed away at the age of 72. I only saw him perform live twice, but his magnetic presence and incredible right hand were the stuff that legends are made of. Mr. Havens provided me with one of my most memorable personal moments in the music industry in 2007 when I had gone to photograph a performance and interview Arlo Guthrie at the Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center in Vienna, Virginia. Richie was opening for Arlo that night, and my editor and I arrived that afternoon during sound check so he could do his interview prior to the show. While the writer was busy in the green room chatting to Arlo, I stuck around on the Wolf Trap stage to watch Richie warm up and do his sound check, snapping candids here and there. Eventually, the backing musicians left the stage to rest up, and I was left alone on stage with Richie. We talked for a few minutes, a very quiet, sweet and charming man, and presently he began to strum the opening power chords of the Who‘s “Won’t get fooled again” on his battered old Guild acoustic. As I sat on the stage at his feet, Richie Havens proceeded to bless me with a command performance of that rock classic for 20 minutes, singing, stomping, growling and smiling as if this was a moment that he lived for. To play THAT song, for me, and me alone. It was magic! We will miss you, Richie, and I thank you for a musical present that I will always cherish! Rest in Peace. Freedom.
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