Richie Havens, a black folksinger with a percussive, strummed guitar style, enjoyed his greatest popularity during the late sixties. He was born and raised in a ghetto, the eldest of nine children in a family headed by a pianist father. As a child, he sang for spare change on street corners. By age fourteen, he was singing with the McCrea Gospel Singers in Brooklyn and three years later dropped out of high school to pursue a music career. He became a regular on the outdoor festival circuit, but was unable to transform his concert audiences into record consumers. In the 1980s and 1990s, he found steady work singing for television commercials. In 1990 he cofounded the Natural Guard, a national organization that helps children learn to protect the environment.
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