Buddy Cage 1946 – 2020

By Andy Kahn Feb 5, 2020 2:47 pm PST

Pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage, known for his membership in the New Riders Of The Purple Sage and several other collaborations, has died at the age of 73. Cage’s death was confirmed by NRPS guitarist Michael Falzarano and the band.

Cage joined the New Riders Of The Purple Sage in 1971, replacing Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia who played pedal steel with the group he co-founded two years earlier in San Francisco with John Dawson. Prior to joining the band, Cage had worked in Toronto with Anne Murray and was on the Festival Express train tour of Canada as a member of Great Speckled Bird along with the Grateful Dead, The Band, Janis Joplin and others.

Cage, joined Dawson and fellow guitarist David Nelson, bassist Dave Torbert and Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden in solidifying the New Riders Of The Purple Sage lineup, which in its early stages included Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and bassist Phil Lesh. Cage briefly left the New Riders in 1978, but re-joined the band in 1980 and remained until 1982.

During his initial tenure with the New Riders, Cage also worked regularly as a session musician. His credits include Bob Dylan’s 1974 album Blood On The Tracks, as well as recordings by Brewer & Shipley, Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, David Bromberg and more. Among Cage’s later-career credits include the Zen Tricksters, Phish bassist Mike Gordon, and Ryan Montbleau.

Cage was part of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage lineup that came together in 2006 and featured Nelson, Falzarano, bassist Ronnie Penque and drummer Johnny Markowski. The New Riders Of The Purple Sage are not currently touring at this time.

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