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Richie Havens RIP

RICHIE HAVENS, 72, the beloved folk icon who became part of musical history during his impromptu opening performance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival, died this morning in his home from a sudden heart attack. Best known for his distinctive intense, rhythmic guitar style and soulful covers of pop and folk songs, Havens toured and recorded music for over 40 years before retiring from the road last year. Havens was remembered as much for his gentle and compassionate nature, his light humor and his powerful presence as for his music. The Brooklyn-born performer, the eldest of nine children, started out in street corner doo-wop groups as a teenager. By 20, he went to Greenwich Village, then signed on with Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman, landing a record deal at Verve Forecast, which released Mixed Bag in 1967, featuring tracks like “Handsome Johnny” (co-written with actor Louis Gossett Jr.), before achieving public recognition with his 1968 album, Something Else Again. As Woodstock’s opening act, he held the crowd for nearly three hours (promoters asked him to keep playing 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” which became “Freedom.” The subsequent Woodstockmovie helped Havens reach a worldwide audience. He also branched out into acting during the ‘70s, with featured roles in the original 1972 stage presentation of The Who’s Tommy, as Othello in the 1974 film Catch My Soul, in Greased Lightning with Richard Pryor and in 1987,  appeared in the Bob Dylan vehicle, Hearts of Fire. Increasingly, Havens devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-‘70s, he co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. That led to the creation of The Natural Guard, an organization Richie describes as "a way of helping kids learn that they can have a hands-on role in affecting the environment.” A public memorial will be planned for a later date. (4/22p)

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Stuffing.
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Candying.
PUMPKIN PIE
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