Lifestyle & Human Interest

Singer-Songwriter David Olney Reportedly Says 'I'm Sorry' to Crowd, Then Dies Onstage During Performance


Singer-songwriter David Olney, 71, quietly passed away in the midst of a performance at the 30A Songwriters Festival on Saturday night.

According to NBC News, Olney was in the middle of playing for a crowd at Santa Rosa Beach in Florida when he paused, apologized, then “fell silent and dropped his head.”

Olney, considered a musical giant in the folk-rock community, was in the middle of his second festival performance of the day when he died.

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NBC reported that at first, the musicians on stage and the crowd did not realize that Olney had passed away, thinking he was perhaps just taking an artistic pause.

Amy Rigby, who was sitting beside Olney when he stopped playing, recounted the moment on Facebook.

“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,” Rigby wrote.

Rigby said that fellow musician Scott Miller initiated an attempt to revive Olney, joined by doctors from the crowd as well as festival officials in hopes to save the singer’s life.

“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,” Rigby wrote.

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“We all lost someone important last night.”

Miller echoed Rigby’s words in a post of his own, describing Olney’s calm and gentle final moments.

“David was playing a song when he paused, said ‘I’m sorry’ and put his chin to his chest,” Miller wrote.

“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,” Miller continued. “The world lost a good one last night.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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