Singer-Songwriter David Olney Dies Onstage at 30A Songwriters Festival
David Olney, a celebrated singer-songwriter, died onstage during a Saturday night (Jan. 18) 30A Songwriters Festival event. He was 71 years old.
According to Olney's official website, the artist suffered "an apparent heart attack" while playing a set at the Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.-based music festival. Amy Rigby, a singer-songwriter who was playing the in-the-round event with Olney and Scott Miller, recounts on Facebook that Olney was playing his third song of the round "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 ... [A]t first looked like he was just taking a moment," she shares. "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."
Olney, who was born on March 23, 1948, was a native of Lincoln, R.I., and moved to Nashville in 1973, after studying English for a time at the University of North Carolina. In the early 1980s, his band The X-Rays were signed to Rounder Records; in 1986, Olney began a solo career that resulted in more than 20 albums.
Olney's songs were recorded by, among others, Emmylou Harris and Del McCoury, and he also enjoyed writing sonnets and performing at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. "David Olney tells marvelous stories, with characters who cling to the hope of enduring love, all the while crossing the deep divide into that long, dark night of the soul," says Harris.
Olney is survived by his wife Regine, his daughter Lillian and his son Redding. Details on his memorial service have not yet been announced.
Rest in Peace: Remembering the Country Artists Who Died in 2019