Nashville singer-songwriter David Olney—whose songs have been covered by Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Steve Earle—died onstage Saturday (Jan. 18) while performing onstage at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida. The cause of death is thought to be a heart attack. He was 71.

A fellow musician who was performing with him that night, Amy Rigby, posted on social medial about witnessing his passing in person, which she described as peaceful. "Olney was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes," she wrote. "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."

Rigby noted that eventually it became obvious that something was wrong. "Doctors in the audience and 30A folks were all working so hard to get him to come to," she explained.

Olney had lived in Nashville since 1973, where he formed the rock group The X-Rays. He released his first solo album, titled Eye of the Storm, in 1986. He went on to release two dozen more albums, and according to Variety had just completed a new album.

Olney is survived by his wife, Regine, daughter, Lillian, and son, Redding. Memorial services have not yet been set.

 

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