The man who opened Woodstock


I was sixteen when I saw the film, Woodstock. It was at the Palladium, that later became a car park. There were three acts that impressed me. Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Joe Cocker, and Richie Havens. When I saw Havens it was like listening to God. I was hooked, and I bought all his albums. Fast-forward thirty-four years. A friend I met in India with two others started up an arts magazine called Troika. Over a beer one night he asked if I would like to interview Richie Havens on a phone hook up via Carlton & New York. He knew I loved him. It was like the Gods had given me a gift. I was just a poor working class boy from the western suburbs, and my life was as far removed from rock n roll as the Earth from the Moon. After smoking a near pack of cigarettes in two hours, finally I got the nerve to interview him. What transpired was forty- five minutes of generosity I’ll never forget. He told me he played for three hours. They couldn’t get the acts in because of the weather, and the traffic jam. It was brilliant. I told him a story I heard from Woody Guthrie. It goes like this-Papa rabbit & Mama rabbit were playing in a field when they heard the sounds of hunting dogs. The two rabbits ran into a hollow log trembling as the dogs sniffed around the entrance. Mama rabbit said to Papa rabbit, “well then, what do we do now”? Papa rabbit thought for a moment, “well, we’ll just stay here till we out number them”. Havens laughed like crazy. It was the best time of my life. The magazine closed down. I never did get to see Havens. And when I heard he passed away, I felt real sad. He was a nice guy. After the interview I went back to reality working in Aged Care. Ah, such is life!

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