*The ashes of musician Richie Havens were scattered from a plane across the site of Woodstock during a ceremony on Sunday (Aug. 18).
According to The Associated Press, 3o family members were present at the memorial, which also drew a crowd of about 1,000.
Havens was the first act to perform at the 1969 concert held in upstate New York, where he made history with his performance of “Freedom.”
The Woodstock headliner had requested that his ashes be scattered over the original site, now known as Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
“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,” read a statement from his family.
Close friends Danny Glover and Louis Gossett Jr. were among the speakers at the ceremony.
The tribute to Havens was hosted on the 44th anniversary of the final day of Woodstock. Havens died in April from a heart attack at the age of 72.
*The ashes of Richie Havens will be scattered across the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival on the anniversary of the final day of the concert he opened with a nearly three-hour performance, reports the Associated Press
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the music venue built on the Woodstock site in New York’s Sullivan County, announced Tuesday that a musical tribute to the folk singer-guitarist will be held Aug. 18. That’s the 44th anniversary of the final day of the three-day concert that drew more than 400,000 people to Max Yasgur’s farm.
Havens died in April of a heart attack at age 72. He was Woodstock’s first performer after massive traffic jams kept the scheduled opening acts from showing up on time.
His performance of “Freedom” became a signature moment of the concert.
*Famed folk singer Richie Havens, the opening act at the 1969 Woodstock music festival, died Monday of a sudden heart attack, his publicist said. He was 72.
Havens, who retired three years ago, toured for more than 30 years and recorded 30 albums.
He once told Billboard that his breakthrough at Woodstock came after another artist’s equipment got stuck in traffic. He was supposed to be the fifth act.
“It was 5 o’clock and nothing was happening yet,” Havens said. “I had the least instruments (to set up on stage) and the least people (in his band).” So Havens went on and performed for 40 minutes, as planned. Organizers asked him to do four more songs.
“I went back and did that, then it was, ‘Four more songs…’ and that kept happening ’til two hours and 45 minutes later, I had sung every song I know,” he said.
Havens, a Brooklyn, New York, native, told CNN in 1999 that music enabled him to leave his rough neighborhood to head to Greenwich Village and the music scene there.
“I believe I inherited my sense of music from my father. My father was an ear piano player; he could just hear something and play it,” he recalls. “I came up in Brooklyn singing doo-wop music from the time I was 13 to the time I was 20. That music served a purpose of keeping a lot of people out of trouble, and also it was a passport from one neighborhood to another.”
His inspiration for songs about social change and protest came when he heard artists like Fred Neil, Dino Valenti and Tom Paxton. That’s when he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
“It was the songs that actually changed my life,” he says. “The songs that I heard were so much different than the doo-wop kind of thing. They were just so powerful. Finally I decided, ‘I’ve got to do this.’”
Before Woodstock, his nights were filled with playing as often as possible to make a few dollars.
“We played three coffeehouses a night, 14 sets a night, 20-minute sets, pass the basket, stay alive,” he told CNN. “I was there seven and a half years, every day. It was the most incredibly magic, magic time.”
After Havens gained attention at Woodstock, he recorded a soulful-voiced cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” which rose on the pop charts in 1970.
“While his family greatly appreciates that Richie’s many fans are also mourning this loss, they do ask for privacy during this difficult time,” a statement from his publicist, Carrie Lombardi, said. “A public memorial will be planned for a later date.”
Havens is survived by three daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
*Nicki Minaj just dropped a teaser for “Freedom,” a track from her upcoming album “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up,” due Nov. 19.
“Freedom” appears to be a career retrospective for the performer. She raps, “They’ll never thank me for opening doors / But they ain’t even thank jesus when he died on the cross / Cause your spirit is ungrateful, b-tches is so hateful, I remain a staple / My career’s been the pink print/ When I retire tell ‘em think pink / Pink friday is the imprint / And these b-tches basic, instinct.”
In the chorus she croons, “I feel free, I feel freedom why they mad / You should see them, burning up / Cause it’s crazy in here crazy in here crazy in here.” [Listen below. Explicit language]
Minaj’s much-hyped appearance in the upcoming season of “American Idol” will debut Jan. 16. She also recently released a music video for another track on the album called “The Boys,” which features Cassie. [Scroll down to watch. Explicit language]
*Last week I wrote that conservatives are focused on the wrong time period. This was an attempt to give them a little credit and benefit of the doubt.
I was trying to allow for the idea that conservatives genuinely have the country’s best interests at heart, but because they think about America as if the year were 1900 their solutions and ideas do not resonate in 2012.
That point of view is certainly valid. But the more cynical perspective is that conservatives know exactly what year it is and what they are doing; that they simply do not believe in the values the country was founded upon. In other words it is possible that conservatives, despite all their proclamations, simply dislike liberty.
This is because conservatives often oppose laws and programs that promote or protect the freedom of others when other use that freedom to choose a non-conservative path.
All societies operate based on a social contract – an implicit agreement where individuals give up some of their inherent freedoms for collective security and other basic agreements about how their society will work. The social contract with Great Britain with the Declaration of Independence was because of philosophical differences (not specific issues); the social contract that was implied in the Constitution was based largely on philosophy (the Constitution contains very few details)
So when conservatives look at the founding of the country and perceive an American society as they believe it should have stayed (with the probable exception of racial inequality – although it should be noted that a majority of conservatives in each generation fought racial equality until very recently) they are missing the point. This affinity for America as it was in reality in 1800 is key because that reality was not the same as America in theory. The United States in 1800 promoted and protected the freedom and interests of heterosexual, native born, white, Protestant men. The United States in theory promotes and protects the freedom and interests of all citizens without reservation. Conservatives repeatedly reject this more general application of freedom that is the mission statement of the united States in theory.
This is the story behind the recent instances of conservative law makers initiating bills that mandate transvaginal ultrasounds prior to abortion; this is the story of resistance to gay marriage; this is the story of struggle against a mosque being built in lower Manhattan.
In my effort to acknowledge that conservatives are not crazy it is necessary to note that they are contributing taxes to society and therefore should have something to say about how society operates. The problem is that it seems conservatives want to dictate the rules of society instead of contributing to a discussion about the rules.
The ever strengthening relationship between evangelical Christians and conservatives is particularly instructive in this regard. Evangelicals understand the world as ordered by God and superimpose the monarchical system of Christianity over the democratic system of American society. But these two modes of operation are incompatible.
And this is why it is plausible that conservatives are not innocently focusing on the wrong time period in American history but rather intentionally subverting the American way of life. 1. Conservative decision makers reflect the desires of the evangelical base; 2. They crouch issues in terms of God’s plan/will and Satan’s plan; 3. They consider choices made that do not reflect God’s will to be illegitimate; 4. They try to eliminate the possibility of such choices.
Because they would never choose to marry someone of the same sex, they seek to stop anyone else from having the option to do so.
But this is not the American way. In fact it is exactly the opposite of the principle of freedom that the country was founded on. We must remember, and apparently remind our conservative acquaintances that the country was established on what it could, would, and should be. Not what it was after the British surrender at Yorktown.
The essence of liberty is allowing, and defending the ability of, others to have a different opinion and journey through life than what you have.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at email@example.com.