David Olney death: Nashville singer dies on stage from apparent heart attack after ‘apologising to audience’

Nashville singer-songwriter David Olney has died during a performance on stage.

The Americana artist, whose music was recorded by Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young and others, died of an apparent heart attack while performing at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. 

According to fellow singer-songwriter Scott Miller, who was performing with Olney, the 71-year-old stopped in the middle of a song, said “I’m sorry”, and “put his chin to his chest”.

“He never dropped his guitar or fell [off] his stool,” Miller wrote on Facebook. “It was as easy and gentle as he was.”

Amy Rigby, who was also on stage with Olney at the time, wrote a separate Facebook post with her own moving account of what happened. 

“He was very still, sitting upright with his guitar on, wearing the coolest hat and a beautiful rust suede jacket… 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,” she wrote. 

“We all lost someone important last night.”

Olney became a key member of Nashville’s music scene after moving there from his native Rhode Island in 1973. Regarded as an “Americana pioneer”, he produced more than 20 albums, including 2018’s This Side or the Other. 

30A festival producer Russell Carter wrote: “David was loved and highly respected by all who knew him, including his fellow musicians and his multitude of fans.”

Olney is survived by his wife and two children. 

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