Singer/songwriter David Olney, 71, died onstage during the 30-A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., on Jan. 18.
David collapsed onstage after an “apparent heart attack” during a showcase alongside Amy Rigby and Scott Miller.
Amy shared details of the tragedy via Facebook, saying: “David Olney, a beautiful man, a legend, a songwriting poet died last night. I was sitting next to him in the round, had been so honored and looking forward to getting to trade songs with him and Scott Miller. Olney was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes. He was very still, sitting upright with his guitar on, wearing the coolest hat and a beautiful rust suede jacket we laughed about because it was raining like hell outside the boathouse where we were playing- 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. Scott Miller had the presence of mind to say we needed to revive him. Doctors in the audience and 30A folks were all working so hard to get him to come to. It’s hard to post about this because I can’t really believe he’s gone. I am so sorry for his wife and family and friends and all the people who loved him and his music. Even those who never heard of him. We all lost someone important last night.”
In addition to releasing more than 20 solo albums, David’s songs were recorded by Emmylou Harris, Del McCoury, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young and more. He is survived by wife Regine, daughter Lillian and son Redding.
David’s official website noted the following: “Olney moved to Nashville [in 1973] after briefly studying English at the University of North Carolina. He quickly fell in with a group of like-minded songwriters that included [Guy] Clark, [Townes] Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, and Richard Dobson. In the early 1980s, he formed The X-Rays, a jagged rock band that secured a contract with Rounder Records. In 1986, he embarked on a solo recording career that produced more than 20 albums and allowed him to travel the world making music.”
photo by Jim Casey