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The First Performer Of Woodstock- Richie Havens

Ian Tyas/Keystone Features/Getty Images

Let’s take a trip back to 1969. It’s August 15th and The Woodstock Music and Art Fair began in Bethel New York. Woodstock is one of the most historic music moments of all time. The three-day concert featured 24 bands and drew over 400,000 people. Who was the first performer at Woodstock you ask? His name was Richie Havens.

Richie Havens had the honour to open the Woodstock Festival at about 5.07 pm. According to an interview on TV there were originally four songs planned for him. But since the audience liked him and the organizers forced him to play longer.

As the festival’s first performer, he held the crowd for nearly three hours (in part because he was told to perform a lengthy set because many artists were delayed in reaching the festival location), and was called back for several encores. Having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual “Motherless Child” that became “Freedom”. The subsequent Woodstock movie release helped Havens reach a worldwide audience.”

Check out this classic “Handsome Johnny” from Woodstock:


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