Richie Havens: Here Comes the Sun

TDR-Classic Artist and Song: RICHIE HAVENS and HERE COMES THE SUN. Out of Brooklyn in the late 1950s came a singer/guitarist who would become one of the great Live Performers of the Golden Era: Richie Havens.

One of 9 kids, he started hanging out in The Village with the Folkies in his teens because he craved creative stimulation for writing poetry and drawing portraits. Late at night, he'd go to the Clubs to see Folk Acts. He was of interesting heritage: his father was a Native American (Blackfoot); his mother came from the West Indies (His paternal grandfather reportedly joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show to leave the reservation.)

Havens said it would be a couple of years of hanging out before he picked up a guitar. Then he started to busk in the Clubs. Before long Richie's name was in play because of his Live Shows, with his intense and rhythmic style, often with open tuning. His break came when Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, who fished The Village for new clients, signed him up and got him a deal with Verve Folkways Records. Over the next few years he released 5 albums—but none sold well.

In 1969, he became the Opening Act at the "WOODSTOCK Festival." Havens started off with a strong set… and kept going for 3 hours at the request of festival organizers. (It seems other acts were having trouble getting through the festival traffic.) Havens played through his entire repertoire and was still urged to continue, so he proceeded to make up a song to the tune of "Motherless Child" that became, "Freedom.” He later commented that Freedom was what they got there.

The Movie and Record Album to follow established Richie Havens as a Worldwide Star, earning him a booking at the "Isle of Wight Festival" in the U.K., where he killed. Not happy with his record company, Richie started his own Label, "Stormy Forest," and released the album "Alarm Clock," which included a cover of George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun."

The song climbed to #16 on the Hot 100 and drove the album into Top 30, leading to Multiple Recordings, Tours and TV Shows like: “Ed Sullivan" and "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," that propelled his career into orbit. He became not only a Popular but a Beloved International Entertainer. Everybody said, “See him Live once and you’ll be sold."

In 2012 Richie Havens announced he would no longer tour because of "Health Reasons." and in 2013 he died of a heart attack at age 72. May his Rhythmic Soul rest in the Cosmic Peace. For the TDR Tribute Video Scott selected an incredibly cool clip of Richie Live doing his Signature Tune, "Here Comes the Sun," with excellent picture and sound. Note the open tuned guitar and heavy emphasis on rhythm. @therealdonrocks

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