Singer-songwriter David Olney dies on stage mid-performance
He was 71.
January 20, 2020, 9:34 AM
4 min read
American folk singer and songwriter David Olney died on stage during a performance in Florida over the weekend. He was 71.
Olney, who wrote songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young and others, suffered an apparent heart attack during his performance at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach on Saturday night, according to a statement on his website.
“David was playing a song when he paused, said ‘I’m sorry’ and put his chin to his chest,” fellow singer-songwriter Scott Miller, who was performing with Olney, wrote on Facebook. “He never dropped his guitar or fell [off] his stool. It was as easy and gentle as he was.”
Amy Rigby, another singer-songwriter, was also on stage with Olney at the time.
“He was very still, sitting upright with his guitar on, wearing the coolest hat and a beautiful rust suede jacket,” Rigby wrote on Facebook. “I just want the picture to be as graceful and dignified as it was, because it at first looked like he was just taking a moment.”
Doctors in the audience helped try to revive Olney until medics arrived on scene, Rigby said, but he was gone.
Olney, a native of Lincoln, Rhode Island, became a key part of the folk music scene in Nashville after moving there in 1973. Revered as a pioneer of Americana, he produced more than 20 solo albums and traveled the world making music.
Olney is survived by his wife, Regine, their two children, Redding and Lillian, and “by a devastated music community,” according to the statement on his website.
“David was loved and highly respected by all who knew him, including his fellow musicians and his multitude of fans,” Russell Carter, co-producer of the 30A Songwriters Festival, wrote on Facebook.