Who was the opening act at Woodstock?
Answer: Richie Havens (But He Wasn’t Supposed to be)
Even high-level reading on Woodstock illuminates the myriad of problems the organizers faced when they tried to orchestrate the “Three Days of Peace and Music” in Bethal New York in 1969. The venue changed, there were traffic jams and food shortages, and eventually admittance was free because so many people showed up. To top it off, the opening act, “Sweetwater” ran into the same traffic delay, and couldn’t make it to Max Yasgur’s farm on time.
With that said, great moments are born from great opportunity (thanks Herb) and for folk singer Richie Havens it was a chance to etch his name in the history books. Just after 5PM on Friday afternoon, Havens began his set, and by some accounts, continued playing for nearly three hours. He performed several encores, playing “every song he knew.” According to The Huffington Post “he sang his now-famous song “Freedom” for the first time, on stage at Woodstock, making the words up as he played. He later told the story of having to see the movie “Woodstock,” so that he could hear how the song went so he could perform it again.” What a way to kick off the once in a lifetime weekend.