Singer-songwriter David Olney dead at 71 after passing mid-show

A renowned folk singer-songwriter died in the middle of a performance after apologizing to his audience and closing his eyes.

David Olney, 71, had what appears to be a heart attack on stage Saturday at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., according to a statement on his website.

In the middle of a song, Olney had paused, said “I’m sorry,” and “put his chest to his chin,” according to fellow singer-songwriter Scott Miller.

“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, a singer who was on stage next to Olney, described how he “apologized and shut his eyes” during his third song.

“He was very still, sitting upright with his guitar on,” Rigby recalled on Facebook.

“[He was] wearing the coolest hat and a beautiful rust suede jacket we laughed about because it was raining … outside the boathouse where we were playing.”

At first, festival staff and audience members thought Olney was “just taking a moment,” Rigby wrote.

Then, they jumped to action and attempted to revive him.

“We got him down and tried our best to revive him until the EMT’s arrived,” Miller wrote.

A well-known figure in the folk-rock and Americana communities, Olney was a key member of Nashville’s music scene since moving there in 1973.

He recorded 20 albums over the course of his career, with some of his songs being covered by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Del McCoury, Linda Ronstadt and Steve Young.

“The world lost a good one last night,” Miller wrote. “But we still have his work. And it still inspires. And always will.”

Olney is survived by wife, Regine, daughter, Lillian, and son, Redding.

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