Obituary: David Lindley – Musician (78)

David Lindley gave new meaning to the term ‘multi-instrumentalist.’ He said he had “no idea” how many instruments he could actually play: ADDED Henry Kaiser’s REQUIEM for DAVID LINDLEY

Photo: David Lindley (The Delete Bin)

04 March 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Well, what can you say about Mr. Lindley? Although primarily known (and rightly admired) for his work with artists like Jackson Browne, Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt (indeed he could be said to have helped define ‘the Jackson Browne sound’) Lindley will primarily be remembered as a musician.

Once you heard him, you could spot him anywhere. And it would be impossible to name another musician who could dare to stand his own standing (or sitting) next to Ry Cooder. (See the final video for a prime example of dueling slides!)

Perhaps best known for his laptop steel playing, he was a musical madman! With every song he played, he hit the road running and just as you began to think it might have been the best playing you have ever heard, he kicked it into overdrive. Literally.

I have picked a variety of music videos to accompany the remembrances below, but if you only have time for one song, please listen to the first one below. This is a perfect example of why Mr Linkley was -and always will be – loved, revered, and remembered as one of the best and most original musicians.

And if you like this song, please do go out and explore his amazing collection of solo and other albums.

You will be introduced to musical styles and genres you never knew even existed. Because without Mr Lindley, they literally did not exist.

James Porteous | Clipper Media News

David Lindley and El Rayo-X – Mercury Blues (live Berlin 1981)


Henry Kaiser recorded a number of albums with Mr. Lindley, including their amazing World out of Time collection. Here he talks about his work with Lindley and offers a number of amazing uncirculated video clips.

ADDED: Jackson Browne David Lindley, Philadelphia Folk Festival, 2006

Jackson Browne And David Lindley At The Philadelphia Folk Festival, Schwenksville, PA, August 19, 2006

A huge rock festival type crowd assembled to see Jackson Browne and David Lindley, his main sideman through most of the 70s, perform live at the famous Philadelphia Folk Festival on a hot summer Saturday afternoon. The two had just returned from a European tour and this was their only stop on the way home to California.

Browne and Lindley performed an all acoustic show. The star played his usual acoustic guitar and piano while Lindley, as always, played every string instrument he could get his hands on. He even used two different violins. If they were tired and suffering from jetlag it certainly didn’t show in their playing or their enthusiasm.

The set list spanned Browne’s entire career. Most of the first half of the show featured later material including “I’m Alive,” “Too Many Angels,” and “The Barricades of Heaven.”

He also played “The Crow and The Cradle” from the No Nukes album. Browne tried to present Lindley as an equal by performing two of Lindley’s songs from his late band El Rayo-Ex, including “Mercury Blues.” They also played what may be the only Browne-Lindley collaboration, “Call It A Loan,” a forgotten song from Browne’s 1980 album Hold Out. Depsite his best efforts, Browne knew he was the reason the crowd had assembled.

That became obvious when “Take It Easy,” “For Everyman,” “Late For The Sky,” “For A Dancer,” “The Pretender,” “Lives In The Balance” and an all acoustic version of “Running On Empty,” thrilled the fans. Missing were some of my favorites: “Fountain Of Sorrow,” “Before The Deluge,” and “The Load Out/Stay.”

The sound was impeccable. The blend of voices and instruments was never less than perfect. Browne and Lindley couldn’t have played and sung better and the audience went away very happy.

Set List:
I?m Alive
Call It A Loan
Too Many Angels
The Pretender
The Crow On The Cradle
Live In The Balance
For Everyman
Mercury Blues
El Rayo X
These Days
Your Bright Baby Blues
Barricades Of Heaven
Late For The Sky
For A Dancer
Take It Easy
Running On Empty

03 March 2023 | STEPHEN THOMAS ERLEWINE | LA Times

David Lindley, a multitalented guitarist who was a fixture in Los Angeles recording studios during the 1970s and ’80s, died on Friday. He was 78.

A source close to Lindley confirmed his death to The Times. No cause of death was given, but a fundraiser to cover medical expenses from an undisclosed illness had been set up earlier this year.

After founding the psychedelic folk-rock group Kaleidoscope in 1966, Lindley supported many of the biggest stars of the era, establishing himself as a sought-after session musician through his work with Jackson Browne.

After playing a prominent part on Browne’s “For Everyman” (1973) and “Late for the Sky” (1974), Lindley came to the forefront on 1977’s multiplatinum “Running on Empty,” playing an indelible lap steel solo on the album’s title track and sharing lead vocals on the hit cover version of Maurice Williams’ ”Stay.” Lindley also played on Linda Ronstadt’s “Heart Like a Wheel” and Warren Zevon’s eponymous 1976 album, while also appearing on records by Crosby & Nash, Rod Stewart and Ry Cooder.

Americana singer-songwriter and guitarist Jason Isbell tweeted, “The loss of David Lindley is a huge one. 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.”

On albums recorded with his band El Rayo-X in the early 1980s, Lindley displayed the full range of his musical interests, particularly in non-Western sounds.

Lindley’s omnivorous tastes extended to the instruments he played. He accumulated all manner of stringed instruments from around the globe — he stated that he had “no idea” how many instruments he could actually play — often specializing in finding distinctive sounds in the kinds of cheap instruments other professional players would avoid.

A guitarist performs onstage

Born in San Marino, Calif., on March 21, 1944, Lindley grew up in a musical household, surrounded by his father’s eclectic collection of 78 rpm records. When he was a child, Lindley started playing banjo and fiddle, soon acquiring enough skill that he became a five-time winner of the annual Topanga Canyon Banjo Contest.

While attending La Salle High School in Pasadena, he formed the folk group the Mad Mountain Ramblers, who started playing in Los Angeles folk clubs. There, he met Chris Darrow forming the short-lived Dry City Scat Band before Lindley started dabbling in electric music. The pair reunited in Kaleidoscope, a psychedelic band that released its first album, “Side Trips,” in 1967. That year, Lindley landed his first notable session work when he played a variety of instruments on Leonard Cohen’s debut album, “Songs of Leonard Cohen.”

Often drawing upon Middle Eastern musical concepts, Kaleidoscope lasted through four albums before splitting in 1970. Lindley headed to England, where he played with blues-rocker Terry Reid for a couple of years, appearing on Reid’s 1972 album, “River.” After completing his stint with Reid, Lindley joined Browne’s band. Soon he became a trusted collaborator, appearing on every album Browne released between 1973’s “For Everyman” and 1980’s “Hold Out.”

David Lindley & El Rayo-X – Quarter Of A Man (Live at Reggae On The River)

While he was a fixture in Browne’s band, Lindley played sessions with many of the biggest stars of the mid-1970s.

Ronstadt hired him for a trio of albums — “Heart Like a Wheel,” “Prisoner in Disguise” and “Simple Dreams” — and Rod Stewart brought him in to play on “Atlantic Crossing” and “A Night on the Town.”

While producing Warren Zevon’s first album for Asylum, Browne had Lindley play fiddle and slide guitar; Zevon would hire Lindley again in the 1980s.

David Lindley – Werewolves of London [Sunday Night Live 1989]

Ry Cooder enlisted him for “Jazz” and “Bop Till You Drop” in the late 1970s, sparking a collaboration that continued for decades; the pair would occasionally tour as a duo, with one of these ventures captured on the 2019 release “Cooder/Lindley Family Live at the Vienna Opera House.”

Two musicians perform onstage

Lindley put session work on the back burner in the early 1980s when he formed El Rayo-X, a group he characterized as “more or less a party band.”

On the self-titled 1981 album and its 1982 sequel, “Win This Record!,” Lindley played a lively, vaguely new wave-inspired brand of roots-rock that found space for reggae rhythms along with an impish sense of humor; he rewrote the Huey Piano Smith hit “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Blues” as “Tu-Ber-Cu-Lucas and the Sinus Blues” and penned an ode to condoms with “Ram a Lamb a Man.”

After “Very Greasy,” a Ronstadt-produced album from 1988, Lindley lost interest in mainstream rock along with his major-label contract. While he would still appear on prominent albums like Bob Dylan’s “Under the Red Sky,” Iggy Pop’s “Brick by Brick” and John Prine’s “The Missing Years,” he pursued more esoteric interests on his own.

Starting with 1991’s “A World Out of Time,” he and avant-garde guitarist Henry Kaiser released a series of albums based on field recording expeditions held in Madagascar and Norway. Around this time, Lindley struck up a partnership with Hani Naser, recording a series of albums with the Jordanian oud player. He also developed an enduring relationship with reggae percussionist Wally Ingram.

Bonnie Raitt & David Lindley – Everywhere I Go

Over the next few decades, Lindley happily resided on the fringes of mainstream music but would occasionally re-enter the spotlight. He reunited with Browne for a tour of Spain in 2006; the concerts provided the source material for the live album “Love Is Strange.” That same year, Ben Harper had him play guitar on “Both Sides of the Gun.” Lindley released his last solo album, “Big Twang,” in 2007, a year in which he also scored the Werner Herzog documentary “Encounters at the End of the World” with Kaiser.

Lindley was a longtime resident of Claremont, Calif. He is survived by his wife, Joan Darrow — sister of his Kaleidoscope bandmate Chris Darrow — and their daughter, Rosanne Lindley.

David Lindley – “Indifference of Heaven” at the Fretboard Journal

Iconic Claremont musician David Lindley dead at 78

03 March 2023 | Mick Rhodes | Claremont- Courier Photo: Photo/Todd Paris, Mountain Stage

Acclaimed Claremont musician and songwriter David Lindley has died.

Lindley died today after reportedly being in ill health for several months. He was 78.

He was known for his startling, wide-screen musicality, was conversant on dozens of stringed instruments, and was one of the progenitors of world music.

From his distinctive lap steel work on Jackson Browne’s early records, to his own explorations of the music of Turkey, Madagascar, Jamaica, and Greece — to name but a few musical cultures he studied and mastered — Lindley has influenced countless musicians and songwriters around the world for more than five decades.

David Lindley at his final Claremont performance at the Folk Music Center on September 21, 2019. Photo/courtesy of Leslie Gunning

Born in San Marino, California in 1944, the longtime Claremont resident was an early bandmate of another giant of Claremont music, the late Chris Darrow (Lindley was also married to Darrow’s sister, Joanie) in Kaleidoscope. That band released four records between 1966 and 1970 and helped lay the groundwork for what would become known as world music.

After leaving Kaleidoscope, he went on to become an in-demand studio musician, working with Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Leonard Cohen, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, and Warren Zevon, and many others.

But Lindley is most inextricably linked to Jackson Browne, who helped bring him into the mainstream consciousness, beginning with 1973’s “For Everyman.” By the mid-1970s Lindley’s soaring, melodic lap steel slide guitar was suddenly everywhere, as Browne scored a string of hits, including “These Days,” “Redneck Friend,” “The Pretender,” “Running on Empty,” “The Load Out/Stay,” and “That Girl Could Sing.”

Lindley also released more than a dozen solo records, most recently 2008’s “Big Twang.” His band El Rayo X hit number 34 on the Billboard charts in 1981 with its remake of “Mercury Blues,” marking his highest charting single as a solo artist.

Lindley had long been a figure of renown in Claremont. He was hard to miss; his style — funky polyester pants, loud shirts, long hair, and oversized mutton-chop sideburns — was outsider fashion before the term existed, and grew to be iconic.

He last performed in town in September 2019 at the Folk Music Center.

Ry Cooder & David Lindley. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival ’90s,

Ry Cooder & David Lindley Crazy’ Bout An Automobile


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