DAVID LINDLEY – 1944—2023 Died March 3rd.

Posted: March 11, 2023 in MUSIC

RIP David Lindley, fantastic multi-instrumentalist who played on so many albums I love. David Lindley, the multi-instrumentalist who was the featured accompanist for Jackson Browne’s band throughout the ’70s and performed on recordings by Linda Ronstadt, Graham Nash and David Crosby, Rod Stewart, and Warren Zevon, among others, died today (March 3rd, 2023). The news of his passing at age 78 was shared by many acquaintances on social media. The cause of death was not revealed but it’s known that Lindley had faced several serious medical issues. His daughter, Rosanne Lindley, announced in December that had been hospitalized with pneumonia and also had kidney issues.

Lindley fronted his own band, El Rayo-X. From his official biography: Lindley performed music that redefined the word “eclectic,” long championing the concept of world music. The David Lindley electro-acoustic performance effortlessly combined American folk, blues and bluegrass traditions with elements from African, Arabic, Asian, Celtic, Malagasy and Turkish musical sources. The man who could play any stringed instrument under the sun including ones you never heard of: violin, acoustic and electric guitar, upright and electric bass, banjo, lap steel guitar, mandolin, hardingfele, bouzouki, cittern, bağlama, gumbus, charango, cümbüş, oud, and zither.

Instead of a long winded tribute, here are few nuggets featuring his fine playing on a variety of instruments.

Between 1967 and 1971, Lindley founded and led the psychedelic rock band Kaleidoscope. In 1971, Lindley joined forces with Browne, serving as his most significant musical co-conspirator until 1981.

Terry Reid said What sad news to hear of the passing of my dear friend and former bandmate David Lindley. How blessed I was to have him in my band in the early 70’s. During that time we played the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival and there’s a live album of our show. We went on to play the first Glastonbury Festival too . David was a really gifted musician on any instrument with strings and was so in-demand that he played with everybody. He made a huge contribution to both my “River” and “Seed of Memory” albums. Sincere condolences to all his loved ones.

Banjo“, a track written by David Lindley from the 1969 album “Incredible! Kaleidoscope”. Lindley was a member of Kaleidoscope, a unique psychedelic folk band from the late 1960s:

Kaleidoscope, arguably the first “world music” rock band, decades before the term was coined. They played an “Electric Band Session” as part of the Berkeley Folk Music Festival. Practically every member of the group was a multi-instrumentalist, and David had brought his huge Gibson harp guitar (an early-20th Century Style U) on the road. At one point they’d gotten themselves situated with their chosen instruments when, just before the downbeat, some fan hollered, “Louisiana Man!” They paused, looked at each, and then started exchanging instruments while the crowd laughed. They proceeded to peel off a terrific rendition of Doug Kershaw’s Cajun classic.

When it finally came time for a solo album, 1981’s “El Rayo-X” defied and exceeded all expectations. It was mature, fully realized, and original; eclectic but cohesive. Rather than present a Whitman’s sampler of various styles, he said, “I wanted to have a coherent theme to the whole thing.

Consummation, from Claire Hammill’s excellent 1971 album “One House Left Standing”. Guitar arrangement by David Lindley:

Graham Nash, “Prison Song“, 1974. David Lindley on Mandolin:

Linda Ronstadt, Heart Like A Wheel, 1974. David Lindley plays the fiddle. Linda Ronstadt said of Lindley: “I love David Lindley. He’s my cousin, and there’s no reason he would ever not be in my life personally and professionally”:

And of course, his most celebrated collaboration with Jackson Browne. Browne called Lindley “My longtime collaborator and musical mentor” in his acceptance speech when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here they are performing “The Load Out” and “Stay” Live at the BBC in 1978. Lindley sings the falsetto part midway through the song:

When remembering his time with Browne, Lindley shared a story of one of there first meetings “Jackson was playing there and I borrowed a fiddle and sat in with him. That was the beginning of it. He liked the way it worked. Then I went to England and played with Terry Reid. Jackson came to London after the first album came out and we did some gigs there. A friend of mine had a club in Cambridge. We played the club and it was fun. Then it was, ‘Let’s do a band thing!’ I thought, ‘That’ll be fun.’”

Obituaries lump him in with soft rock, which was true of much of his ’70s work. But the highlights of countless Jackson Browne concerts were Lindley’s incandescent lap-steel solos on “Doctor My Eyes” and “Running on Empty.” And his performances were also an indelible part of hits by Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Zevon, Dolly Parton, and many more.

Browne stated, “I can’t even call it ‘my music’ when I think about David, because he’s such an integral part of it.”

In 1979, Lindley began working with old friend Ry Cooder on the latter’s “Bop Till You Drop” and “The Long Riders” soundtrack. Their musical collaboration continued for decades with recording projects and world tours as an acoustic duo.

His associates were eager to sing his praises, and I was able to interview several. Booker T. Jones said, “He’s the one who makes the band go,” while Ry Cooder declared, “He has the sensitivity that allows him to grasp what the hell is going on.”

Leland Sklar was among the many musicians who posted a tribute. “I will forever think off David and Jackson as one of the best teams I have ever played with. Both so gifted and so connected ….. so glad for all the years to have enjoyed with you both.”

“The loss of David Lindley is a huge one,” singer Jason Isbell wrote on Twitter. “Without his influence my music would sound completely different. I was genuinely obsessed with his playing from the first time I heard it. The man was a giant.”

Graham Nash also took to social media to pay tribute to Lindley on Friday. “One of the most talented musicians there has ever been,” Nash wrote. “David could play pretty much any instrument you put in front of him with incredible versatility and expression.”

Lindley stood out among the other session musicians, not only because of his impish demeanor, but also because of his raw talent. Known as one of the legendary rock and roll sidemen of his era,

Warren Haynes wrote, “David Lindley was a true stylist and a unique voice on whatever instrument he picked up. His lap steel playing in particular was a big influence on me. I’ve always put David on a short list of major influences on my slide playing- especially on the melodic side. Often times when I’m approaching a song or solo in a major key Lindley’s influence will appear automatically. His style was so vocalesque and his sense of melody was a deep well. I think of some of those Jackson Browne songs with David that we all heard on the radio in the seventies where his solos became part of the song to the point where even non-musicians could hum along. David leaves behind a beautiful trove of music for music lovers to enjoy for centuries to come.”

his ‘Win This Record’ album with El Rayo-X from 1982:

Lindley performed on over 50 records, including his own solo releases and appearances on albums from Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Warren Zevon, Jimmy Barnes, and more. 

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