Richard Pierce Havens (January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013) was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. His music encompassed elements of folk, soul, and rhythm and blues. He had an intense and rhythmic guitar style (often in open tunings), and played soulful covers of pop and folk songs. He was the opening act at Woodstock.
In 2010, Havens underwent kidney surgery but did not recover fully enough to perform as he had before. In March 2012, he announced on his Facebook page that he would retire from touring after 45 years, due to health issues.
On April 22, 2013, Havens died of a heart attack at home in Jersey City, New Jersey, at the age of 72. The BBC referred to him as a “Woodstock icon,” while Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young said Havens “could never be replicated.” The Daily Telegraph stated Havens “made an indelible mark on contemporary music,” while Douglas Martin of The New York Times reported that Havens had “riveted Woodstock.”
Pursuant to Havens’s request, he was cremated, and his ashes were scattered from the air over the original site of the Woodstock Festival, in a ceremony held on August 18, 2013, the 44th anniversary of the festival’s last day.
Havens was survived by his wife Nancy, three children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.