Folk legend Richie Havens has died at the age of 72.
The New York native, who famously opened the fabled Woodstock festival in Bethel in 1969, passed away suddenly following a heart attack at his home in New Jersey on Monday (22Apr13).
A statement from his relatives reads, "While his family greatly appreciates that Richie's many fans are also mourning this loss, they do ask for privacy during this difficult time."
After starting his folk career in the Greenwich Village area of New York, Havens was signed by Bob Dylan's manager Albert Grossman in the late 1960s.
The turning point in his career came in 1969 at Woodstock, when he kept the crowds captivated for three hours as the legendary event's first performer.
Havens enjoyed a varied and lengthy performing career, releasing over 20 albums, and is well known for his soulful renditions of classic tracks, including Beatles hits Here Comes The Sun and Strawberry Fields.
He also made a foray into acting in the 1970s and '80s, playing Othello in 1974 film Catch My Soul, and appearing alongside Richard Pryor in Greased Lightning in 1977.
Havens concentrated on touring in his later years, and performed at former U.S. President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. He retired from the stage in 2012 due to health reasons.
Most recently, a rendition of his track Freedom featured in director Quentin Tarantino's slave western Django Unchained.