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This Is the Only Way to Go: Folk Singer David Olney Dies Onstage

Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

David Olney, a singer-songwriter who’s been prevalent in the folk and Americana music communities since the 1970s, died on Saturday evening during his set at Florida’s 30A Songwriters Festival. He was 71. Per Variety, Olney was in the middle of performing the third song in his set when he apologized to the audience, ceased movement, and closed his eyes. When attendees realized the gravity of the situation, he was quickly lowered from his stool and ushered off the stage. EMTs were unable to revive him upon their arrival. “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,” musician Amy Rigby, who was beside Olney, said. “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, a fellow musician who attended the performance, added of the experience: “David was playing a song when he paused, said ‘I’m sorry,’ and put his chin to his chest. He never dropped his guitar or fell off his stool. It was as easy and gentle as he was.” Olney’s other festival performance, from earlier in the day, was uploaded to YouTube and can be viewed below.

This Is the Only Way to Go: Singer David Olney Dies Onstage