David Olney, a veteran singer-songwriter based out of Nashville, TN who’s music had been recorded by big names like Linda Ronstadt and Del McCoury, died onstage during a performance at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, FL on Saturday.
Olney’s sudden and shocking public passing at the age of 71 over the weekend is eerily similar to the tragic on-stage death of Col. Bruce Hampton, who also died mid-performance during his 70th birthday celebration in Atlanta, GA in May 2017.
According to a statement shared on Facebook by Scott Miller (Olney’s bandmate for the festival), the 71-year-old was in the middle playing a song when he paused, said “I’m sorry,” and rested his chin onto his chest. The musician remained in his seat and even managed to hold onto his guitar before EMTs were able to reach the stage and attempt to revive him.
Musician Amy Rigby, who was also on stage at the time of Olney’s death, also added,
“Olney was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes. 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. 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. It’s hard to post about this because I can’t really believe he’s gone. I am so sorry for his wife and family and friends and all the people who loved him and his music. Even those who never heard of him. We all lost someone important last night.”
An official statement from Olney’s camp shared to his website confirmed his passing in reading, “Revered songwriter David Olney died Saturday, January 18, 2020, after suffering an apparent heart attack during a performance.”
Olney’s death came shortly after he’d recorded a private “Acoustic Interlude” performance for the festival. Watch what would be his final full performance backstage at the 30A Songwriters Festival below.
David Olney – Acoustic Interlude Performance At 30A Songwriters Festival