Folk singer-songwriter David Olney dies suddenly while performing at age 71

Popular folk singer-songwriter David Olney died in the middle of a performance on Saturday night during the 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, according to NBC NewsHe was 71.

Fellow artists who were on stage performing with Olney at that moment described how he simply stopped midway through a song, uttered an apology to those around him and to the audience, and then lowered his head to his chest and became still.

Beloved performer dies on stage

One of those on stage with Olney at the time of his unexpected death was Amy Rigby, who was performing an “in the round” song-swap with him at that fateful moment. She shared in a post on Facebook that Olney was “a beautiful man, a legend, a songwriting poet” who died right next to her.

“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,” she added. She said another artist named Scott Miller, as well as others from the crowd, had attempted to revive Olney, but to no avail.

“Never dropped his guitar”

Miller also took to Facebook, writing of the incident: “Last night we lost David Olney, one of the finest songwriters I have had the pleasure of playing with and knowing.”

She went on: “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.

“We got him down and tried our best to revive him until the EMT’s arrived,” he added. “The world lost a good one last night. But we still have his work. And it still inspires. And always will. RIP.”

Revered musical talent

According to NBC, Olney first arrived on the folk and Americana music scene in the early 1980s as a member of a group known as the X-rays but eventually struck out on his own as a solo artist and had recorded 20 albums over a career that saw him become a revered figure in that particular genre, someone with whom everyone wanted to work or to cover.

Olney just recently finished recording a brand new album, and it was reported that the folks who were putting the last touches on his work learned of his untimely death just as they completed their final revisions.

His performance Saturday night was also notably his second performance of the day and his third performance overall as part of the 30A Songwriters Festival, which features stops at 32 different venues along Florida’s scenic 30A highway.

Olney will undoubtedly be sorely missed by his family, friends and devoted fans across the country.

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