Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Richie Havens - The Guild D40


Richie Havens, a long time member of the New York folk scene of the '60s, died Monday morning from a sudden heart attack. He was just 72.

The world first took notice of Havens’ amazing voice and rhythmic style of guitar playing when he performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

In those long ago times there were white singers and white groups and black singers and black groups.

The Color Line was seldom crossed.

Then Richie Havens came along and sang music written by George Harrison. He sat on a stool and played guitar like a folk singer. But he possessed this brilliant soulful baritone voice that was unique from all other singers, black or white.

Watch his performance at Woodstock and you will see the crowd was spell-bound.

Woodstock was a thrown hastily thrown together production.



The folks that put on the event had no idea this would draw so many people and were totally unprepared.  Havens was the first act to perform.

His performance was extended to 3 hours that day, since many of the other performers that were unable to reach the site due to the teaming crowd.  Much of what he sang that day was improvised on the spot.

Richie Havens was a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn in 1941.  As a young man he was drawn to the beat and folk scene in Greenwich Village and Washington Square.  In the 1950’s he performed in Beatnik clubs reading poetry, drawing portraits and singing.

During the folk years of the early 1960’s he played guitar and sang in Village folk clubs. He was discovered by Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman who signed him to a recording contract.

By alluding to the fact he played guitar, I have to say that he never actually learned the guitar in a conventional manner. He used the guitar as an accompaniment instrument for his incredible voice.

Havens tuned his guitar to an open chord fretting the neck with his first finger and massive left thumb.  He played guitar like it was a drum with a fierce right-handed strumming attack.

A year later Havens appeared at the 1968 Isle of Wight concert.

Havens’ breakthrough hit was his passionate and fast version of the George Harrison song, Here Comes The Sun that was released in 1970.

Throughout his career Richie Havens played Guild guitars. Perhaps he may have been influenced by the fact they were made in New York City. His favorite model is the Guild D40. Because of his heavy-handed right hand attack, Havens Guilds were usually badly scarred on the top.






In 2010, Guild Guitars put out a Richie Havens model D40
This is a beautifully made in the USA dreadnaught instrument that features a solid Sitka spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard, a bone nut and saddle and a double pickguard.

The headstock has a polished ebony cap with Guild’s crown inlay and the Guild logo, all of which are inlayed. A FishmanMatrix Infinity pickup system is included. The guitar is available in a natural or black finish (Havens played both.)

Richie Havens continued to tour through his 70’s.

On March 12, 2012, the singer announced on his Facebook page that he would stop touring due to his health concerns.






3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Guild actually introduced the Richie Havens signature edition D40 in 2003, I have one.
All of them featured an engraved copy of his signature on the truss cover and the second pickguard was shipped in the case so the owner could apply it or not at their discretion.
Guild installed various under-saddle transducers over the years but it was an extra cost option, about $100.00
They were only ever offered in 2 colors: Natural or Black.
And yes I was one of those for whom Richie became an immediate hero when I saw Woodstock the movie at age 14.
"Hardcore Guild Fan"

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Terry Stables said...

Can anyone throw any light on the Guild D40W? Note the W. I don't know what it means. The guitar may not be as good as a D40 but I'd still like to know more about it.