Tuesday, April 30, 2013

OFF TOPIC: Tribute to a Dear Departed Friend

I was 17 or 18, waiting tables at the Cafe Wha and the Why Not on McDougal Street in the Village in 1962-3. Richie Havens was playing these basket houses. After the shows were over, we walked cross town to hang at his crib on Fourth between C and D where he played all night and his "brothers" Dino and Natgoa on the bongos.
"Success is not measured by the position one has reached in life, rather by the obstacles one overcomes while trying to succeed" Booker T. Washington

Richie started out with nothign and reached great heights.
That smoke-filled pad (think Willie Nelson's bus) overflowed with LOVE in its purest form. It radiated from Richie's enormously long hands on his guitar and shined out through his broken-toothed grin. His love for playing and singing was virally contagious!

We lost touch for decades, as friends do. I followed his career from afar in utter awe.

When we met again at a show at the State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ - in the late 80s early 90s? - it was like no time had passed at all. He greeted me with open arms noting that my teenaged son was the spitting image of me at his age!

This post is off my usual topoic of adoption but it is definately about family, because Richie was about the family of man. Back in that lower east side tenement, two little girl babies occasionally toddled about if we hung out into daylight hours.

I saw him again several times over the years after that as he generously performed at fundraisers throughout NJ.  I learned that he was a doting grandpa and living in NJ, albeit without Nan. Nan and I talked. He confirmed that it WAS him on the AmTrack commercials! I KNEW it! No one else could duplicate his voice. 

I am so very sorry that I was unable to be at his viewing in NY on Monday.  I eagerly await word of a memorial concert at Bethel Arts Center. I hope it comes to fruition. I will be there...and so will He. Ashes to ashes, on Yasgurs Farm once again.

He's jammin' with Janis and Jimi!

Rest in Peace. Thank you for leaving so much of yourself for the world. Listen to his music whenever you are doen and will lighten your day!

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