Richie Havens: Woodstock Folk Hero Dies

US musician Richie Havens, the star of the historic 1969 Woodstock festival, has died at the age of 72.

Havens, who emerged from the New York folk scene in the 1960s and went on to sing for the Dalai Lama and president Bill Clinton, died after a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"Beyond his music, those who have met Havens will remember his gentle and compassionate nature, his light humour and his powerful presence," his family said in a statement.

Havens, the eldest of nine children, began his singing career in neighbourhood doo-wop groups before moving to Greenwich Village in the late 1950s where he performed as a poet and an artist and immersed himself in the folk music scene.

Known for his acoustic guitar playing and soulful covers of songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Who, Havens used his music to champion the causes of personal freedom and brotherhood.

The musician's improvised version of gospel song Motherless Child evolved into Freedom at Woodstock to become an anthem of the 1960s hippie generation.

His performance there - where he opened the festival and played for three hours - wowed the crowd and proved a breakthrough, with the inclusion of the song on the Woodstock concert film broadening his audience appeal.

A different version of Freedom was included on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's award-winning 2012 slavery era movie Django Unchained.

Havens sang at Mr Clinton's 1993 inauguration, performed several times for the Dalai Lama, and gave a show-stopping performance of Just Like A Woman at the all-star Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert in 1992.

Other hits included versions of Beatles classics Here Comes The Sun and Strawberry Fields Forever, and The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again.

The singer branched out into acting in the 1970s, appearing in The Who's rock opera Tommy and taking the lead role in the Othello-inspired 1974 movie Catch My Soul.

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