Woodstock Wiki
Richie Havens
Richie Havens.jpg
Richie Havens at Woodstock
Performed on Day 1
Started at 5.00 pm, Friday, 15th
Played for 45 min.
Further Information
Festival Day Chronology
Prev. artist start of day 1
Next artist Sweetwater at 6.15 pm

Richie Havens had the honour to open the Woodstock Festival at about 5.00 pm (sources[1] claim that it was exactly 5.07 pm).

According to an interview on TV[2] there were originally four songs planned for him. But since the audience liked him and the organizers forced him to play longer (bands were stuck in the traffic jam) he was happy to perform more songs. He further claimed that he played every song he knew the next 2:45 hours but this is quite exaggerated since there were bands who also performed during daylight on this day. Sunset occured around 8:00 pm[3].


  • Richie Havens - guitar, vocals
  • Daniel Ben Zebulon - percussion, conga
  • Paul "Deano" Williams - guitar and backing vocals


  1. From the Prison
  2. Get Together
  3. From the Prison (reprise)
  4. I'm a Stranger Here
  5. High Flying Bird
  6. I Can't Make It Anymore
  7. With a Little Help from My Friends
  8. Handsome Johnny
  9. Strawberry Fields Forever > Hey Jude
  10. Freedom (Motherless Child)


Richie Havens has stated he was told to "kill time" on stage and has claimed (on more than one occasion) that he played a long time at Woodstock. At one point, he said that he played for three hours, and did every song he knew. This claim is impossible, given that most sources cite the start of the festival (when Richie got on stage) as around 5:00 pm. Had Havens played for three hours, that would have made it 8:00 when he left the stage. The band Sweetwater and Bert Sommer followed Richie, each playing about 45 minutes, and both playing before dark (photographic evidence shows this).

He did improvise a lot. "Freedom" for instance, was created right on stage as an encore. "Get Together" was a very popular song by Chet Powers that spawned many covers in the late 1960s (originally recorded as "Let's Get Together" in 1964).

Richie Havens played the Beatles songs late in his set, when he ran out of material, because he didn't seem to know the lyrics. On the other hand, he already hummed "With A Little Help from My Friends" as early as July, 1968.

Setlist information is based on Michael Lang's book The Road to Woodstock[4] (except for the first song). In the discussion thread[5] about Richie Haven's setlist is confirmed that the setlist is actually correct.


Other sources than the below mentioned official ones include unreleased film outtakes and audience recordings.





  1. German Wikipedia, article Woodstock-Festival
  2. Yahoo! Woodstock Project mailing list - Richie Havens interview
  3. Sunrisesunset.com
  4. Michael Lang: The Road to Woodstock, 2009, ISBN 0061576557
  5. Yahoo! Woodstock Project mailing list - discussion thread about the setlist