Originally published on Tennessean by Dave Paulson.
Nashville musician David Olney—a celebrated songwriter whose work was recorded by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt—died Saturday night after collapsing on stage at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Watercolor, FL.
Olney's death was confirmed by his manager. He was 71.
On Saturday, the singer-songwriter was performing alongside Amy Rigby and Scott Miller at The Boathouse at WaterColor when he suffered "an apparent heart attack," according to a statement from his publicist.
On Sunday, Rigby remembered the "songwriting poet" in a Facebook post.
"Olney was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes," Rigby 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."
Olney, a native of Rhode Island, moved to Nashville in 1973, where a prolific career began with his rock group, The X-Rays. He struck out as a solo artist with 1986's Eye of the Storm.
His third release, Roses, included liner notes from songwriting legend Townes Van Zandt, who wrote, "Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan, and Dave Olney. Dave Olney is one of the best songwriters I've ever heard—and that's true. I mean that from my heart."
The '90s saw his work recorded by Emmylou Harris ("Jerusalem Tomorrow") and Linda Ronstadt ("Women Cross the River"). In 1999, both artists recorded his "1917" for their duets album, Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions.
Olney released more than two dozen solo albums over the course of his career. His latest, This Side Or The Other, arrived in 2018.
He is survived by his wife, Regine, daughter, Lillian, son, Redding and a "devastated music community."
Feature photo from CNN.com.