Musician Known For Global Hits And Her Woodstock Performance Passes Away


The music world mourns the loss of Melanie, the iconic folk singer known for hits like “Brand New Key” and “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” Melanie, who graced the stage at the historic Woodstock festival in 1969, recently passed away at the age of 76. The singer’s representative, Billy James, confirmed her death to Rolling Stone, although the cause of death has not been disclosed.

Melanie’s children, in a heartfelt statement, expressed gratitude for the outpouring of affection from fans.

“She was one of the most talented, strong and passionate women of the era and every word she wrote, every note she sang reflected that,” the statement said. “Our world is much dimmer, the colors of a dreary, rainy Tennessee pale with her absence today, but we know that she is still here, smiling down on all of us, on all of you, from the stars.”

Born on February 3, 1947, in Astoria, New York, Melanie’s musical journey was influenced by the folk movement and the sounds of artists like Edith Piaf, Kurt & Weill, Blossom Dearie, and her jazz-singer mother Polly. Her debut album, “Born to Be,” released in 1968 with Buddah Records, set the stage for a remarkable career.

Less than a year later, Melanie found herself performing at Woodstock, an experience she described as both terrifying and transformative.

“I had never performed in front of so many people in my life. I was just thrown into it, and I had my first out-of-body experience. I was terrified, I had to leave. I started walking across that bridge to the stage, and I just left my body, going to a side, higher view. I watched myself walk onto the stage, sit down and sing a couple of lines. And when I felt it was safe, I came back,” Melanie told Rolling Stone in 1989.

Her iconic performance in the rain inspired the hit single “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” recorded with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. The success of this song paved the way for other notable releases like “Peace Will Come,” “What Have They Done to My Song Ma,” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday.”

Melanie’s impact reached beyond her discography; she made history by founding Neighborhood Records, the first female-owned independent label in rock. Her chart-topping single “Brand New Key” marked a milestone, topping charts globally. Throughout her career, Melanie remained an independent artist, releasing numerous albums, including “Ballroom Streets,” “Arabesque,” and “Old Bitch Warrior.”

In January, Melanie recorded a cover of Morrissey’s “Ouija Board Ouija Board” for an upcoming tribute album. Her versatility was evident in her planned compilation of covers, “Second Hand Smoke,” featuring renditions of songs by Radiohead, the Moody Blues, Depeche Mode, and David Bowie.

What’s your favorite memory or song from Melanie’s iconic career, and how has her music touched your life?