Happy Birthday Richard Manuel: Tributes To Beloved Member Of The Band


Richard Manuel, one of the founding members of the highly influential rock group The Band, would have celebrated his 76th birthday today. The multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist tragically committed suicide in 1986 at the age of only 42. Manuel left an indelible mark on his band mates and fellow musicians who to this day revere the Canadian-born musician.

Manuel’s death inspired the song “Too Soon Gone” that was sung by Rick Danko and appeared on The Band’s 1993 album Jericho. Robbie Robertson also penned the tribute “Fallen Angel” for his self-titled 1987 solo album that featured vocals by Peter Gabriel. The two tracks can be streamed below:

Greensky Bluegrass has previously incorporated “The Ghost Of Richard Manuel” into their live performances. The song was written and released by the Michigan-based group Steppin’ In It that featured regular GSBG collaborator Joshua Davis. Below is footage from 2014 of Greensky in Seattle covering “The Ghost Of Richard Manuel” and The Band’s “The Shape I’m In.” Watch:

Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell wrote a song titled “Danko/Manuel” that was originally recorded by his former band Drive By-Truckers. The The Dirty South track has remained in Isbell’s solo repertoire, making its way into his live setlists. This footage of the song features The 400 Unit backing the guitarist during a taping of Austin City Limits, view it here:

Shortly after Manuel’s death, Eric Clapton recorded his 1986 album August that included the track “Holy Mother.” The heavy-hearted lyrics were reportedly inspired by Clapton’s loss of his close friend in Manuel. The performance of “Holy Mother” below comes from the 1986 Montreux Jazz Festival and features the August co-producer Phil Collins on drums, watch:

[Originally Published: April 3, 2017]