David Olney (born David Charles Olney in Providence, Rhode Island on 23 March 1948 ; died 18 January 2020) was an American folk singer-songwriter.
Olney moved to Nashville in 1973, attempted to sell his songs to record labels, and then formed the band "The X-Rays" who recorded two albums for Rounder Records, appeared on Austin City Limits, opened for Elvis Costello, and broke up in 1985.
Subsequently, Olney performed as a solo singer-songwriter, and released more than 20 albums over four decades, including 6 live recordings. He collaborated with artists such as John Hadley and Sergio Webb.
His songs have been covered by, and co-written with, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young, Del McCoury and Laurie Lewis, among others.
David Olney and his live performances with multi-instrumentalist Sergio Webb converted new audiences while continuing to give the fans what they wanted. MTV's Urge.com witnessed a show and testified, "Olney Unbound...part Baptist preacher, part caustic comedian, and part existential bluesman... Olney shouted, moaned and howled his sharply observed hard-luck tales and quirky character studies. Webb, who looks like he stepped out of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, provided a dizzying array of textures, employing unconventional techniques"
Awarded the "People's Choice" at the Moab Folk Festival and having played the Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park & the Kerrville (TX) Wine & Music Festival, David & Sergio toured as a duo in support of Mr. Olney's critically acclaimed current studio album - "ONE TOUGH TOWN" (Red Parlor Records). The CD earned a spot on several 2007 "Best Of" lists online and in The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle, The Nashville Scene (TN), The Montreal Gazette (Canada), Rhythms Magazine (Australia) and others.
Olney infused his live performances with an intensity that converted many new listeners into die-hard fans. Olney's intelligent compositions radiated that same intensity, many of which have been recorded by Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Del McCoury, Tim O'Brien, Lonnie Brooks, James King, Slaid Cleaves, Dale Ann Bradley, Tom Rozum, Ann Rabson, Kevin Welch / Keiran Kane / Fats Kaplin and others.
According to late Olney friend and fan Townes Van Zandt, "Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan and Dave Olney. Dave Olney is one of the best songwriters I've ever heard — and that's true. I mean that from my heart."
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