Jesse Winchester 1944-2014 R.I.P.

Jesse Winchester

One of the great godfathers of the current Americana scene.

By Fred Mills

Quintessential songwriter Jesse Winchester passed away Friday morning (April 11) in his town of Charlottesville, VA, following a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

NPR Music commented on Winchester’s Americana godfather status, stating, “Winchester ranks among the elite group of singer-songwriters who can captivate an audience with just his words, his voice and an acoustic guitar. The musician is revered by everyone from James Taylor and Lyle Lovett to Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris.”

In addition to being a huge influence upon a couple of generations of songwriters, Winchester also demonstrated a strong moral compass. In 1967, when the Vietnam War was raging, he opted to relocate to Montreal, Canada, in order to avoid being drafted into the army, and he was subsequently granted amnesty by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, allowing him to return to the United States. However, at times his reputation as a draft-dodger damaged his ability to tour extensively. Just the same, he released a slew of well-regarded albums and even had a Top 40 hit in ’81 with “Say What.”

Go here to download a terrific 1982 concert, and meanwhile, check out the clips, below.

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