20.1.20

Singer dies mid-song at Florida festival

Singer-songwriter David Olney has died at age 71, after falling silent and dropping his head in the midst of a performance at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, Saturday night.

Some news reports said he "collapsed" on stage, but that isn't quite true: Olney simply became still on his stool, leading some audience members and even the musicians beside him to think he was simply taking a pause, before they realized what had happened and lowered him to the stage.


Olney was giving his second festival performance of the day as part of an "in the round" song-swap show with Amy Rigby, who was sitting next to him and described his last moments.

"Olney was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized, and shut his eyes," Rigby wrote on Facebook. "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."

Added Rigby, "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 ... We all lost someone important last night."

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