Elmore planned to have Richie Havens on the cover of our July/August 2009 issue commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. Richie had a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art one night, an easy walk from the Elmore office. Photographer Derek Meade and I arranged a photo shoot during soundcheck, when we could photograph him playing or informally posing.
Usually soundcheck involves a bunch of sound and lighting tech guys walking around fine-tuning their gear, but that day Richie Havens tuned his guitars himself and the soundman was not to be seen. With an audience of two, Richie Havens played just for us for about an hour. Pausing between songs—and sometimes mid-song—to tell a story or to chat, the man conveyed a sense of kindness, peace and good humor I have rarely encountered.
Standing in the beautiful Metropolitan Museum, in a room gifted with world-class acoustics, alone and up-close, Derek Meade and I enjoyed the concert of a lifetime by one of the great icons of our generation. Thank you, Richie Havens, for your music, for your humanity and for one Thursday afternoon I will never forget.