Friends, family and fellow musicians will celebrate the life and music of Richie Havens on August 18th by throwing a concert and spreading his ashes by plane over the original site of the Woodstock Festival, which he opened.
Havens, who died of a heart attack last April at age 72, had requested his ashes be scattered over the famed music site, now known as Bethel Woods. “Though he traveled throughout the world for decades visiting and returning to countless locations, Max Yasgur’s field in the Town of Bethel, Sullivan County, New York always remained the location where Richie felt his deepest connection,” reads a statement from the Havens family.
The singer’s longtime friends Danny Glover and Louis Gossett Jr. (who co-wrote “Handsome Johnny” with Havens) are scheduled to speak, along with Woodstock Festival organizers Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman. Musical performers include Jose Feliciano, John Hammond and John Sebastian.
Following the concert at the Bethel Woods Market Shed, Havens’ ashes and flower petals will be scattered over the site where gave his legendary, three-hour performance in front of 400,000 people at the monumental 1969 festival.
“Richie used to say a day never went by that he wasn’t asked about Woodstock,” continued the spokesperson for the Havens family. “He certainly understood its profound and indelible cultural impact. As he said on the festival’s 40th anniversary, ‘Woodstock was both a peaceful protest and a global celebration. We came together communally to be heard and to be acknowledged.'”
In 1989, Havens spoke with Rolling Stone about opening Woodstock. “My fondest memory was realizing that I was seeing something I never thought I’d ever see in my lifetime – an assemblage of such numbers of people who had the same spirit and consciousness,” he said. “And believe me, you wouldn’t want to be in a place with that many people if they weren’t like-minded!”