On Sunday August 18th the ashes of music legend Richie Havens will be scattered across the field where the historic Woodstock Festival took place in 1969 - today the site of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. This Day of Song and Remembrance Honoring Richie Havens is free and open to the public.
The Bethel Woods grounds, including the Museum at Bethel Woods and the featured temporary exhibits (Shohola Bells: The Sound of Peace, Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, and On Assignment: Woodstock / Photographs by Rolling Stone Photographer Baron Wolman), will open at 10am. The Memorial Celebration will begin at 3 PM in the Bethel Woods Market Shed (seating begins at 2 PM).
Guest speakers include Richie’s longtime friends and fellow activists Danny Glover and Louis Gossett Jr. (who co-wrote “Handsome Johnny” with Havens) and original 1969 Woodstock Festival organizers Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman, with very special musical appearances by Jose Feliciano, John Hammond, John Sebastian, Steve Gorn with Sanjoy Bandopadhyay and Samir Chatterjee, Guy Davis, Stephanie Winters and Walter Parks, Dayna Kurtz, and others to be announced. Stage performances will be hosted by noted radio voice Dennis Elsas (WFUV/SiriusXM). Following the performances, Richie’s ashes will be scattered with flower petals from the air across the field of Max Yasgur’s Farm where Richie Havens played his legendary performance 44 years ago.
Tickets to the seated performance area are no longer available, but anyone who wishes to attend is welcome. Bethel Woods will run supplemental sound to the concert field so that everyone in attendance will be able to hear, and the aerial scattering of Richie’s ashes will be visible from the field. Look for various goings-on throughout the grounds during the day, including a drum circle hosted by Jimi Hendrix’s percussionist Juma Sultan at 12:30 PM on the original festival field.
It was Richie's wish that his ashes be scattered over the festival site, and he made it very well-known for many years. Richie was recognized globally for embodying the spirit of Woodstock, and he carried that message of peace and love everywhere he went. 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.
A spokesperson for Richie’s family explains, “Richie used to say a day never went by that he wasn't asked about Woodstock, and he certainly understood its profound and indelible cultural impact. As he said on the festival’s 40th anniversary, ‘Woodstock was both a peaceful protest and a global celebration. We came together communally to be heard and to be acknowledged.’ Regarding the decision to invite the public on August 18th, there is really no question it's what Richie would've wanted. His family understands and respects that he is very much beloved and missed by many.“
“Richie was one of the world’s greatest gifts, a consummate songwriter and performer. He was very supportive of Bethel Woods, our museum and our mission to educate and inspire expression,” says Darlene Fedun, Chief Executive Officer of Bethel Woods. “We are proud to have known him personally and to be able to honor his wishes. He will be greatly missed.”