April 3, 1943 - March 4, 1986. Too soon gone.
"Isn't everybody dreaming?--then the voice I hear is real.
On March 4th 1986, the Band's lead singer, pianist, and drummer Richard Manuel
died in a motel room in Winter Park, Florida, while touring with the reunited Band.
His emotional, soulful voice and his beautiful songwriting was essential to the success of the
"He brought a lot of powers
and strengths to the group. He brought in gospel music from his church
upbringing. Plus, he loved to play and just come up with new things. It was
like having a force of nature in the band."
"Richard not only had the voice, he had this great rhythmic feel..."
"Richard was a sweet, sweet guy... Always pushed the
envelope beyond where it would go. Drove one hundred fifty miles an hour in
his driveway; faster on the road."
"I was madly in love with Richard... At the time,  we had the same
troubles. I felt insecure and he was clearly insecure, and yet he was so
incredibly gifted....For me he [Richard] was the true light of the
Band. The other guys were fantastic talents, of course, but there was
something of the holy madman about Richard. He was raw. When he sang
in that high falsetto the hair on my neck would stand on end.
Not many people can do that."
"Richard Manuel's is the first voice you hear on the first Band album
Music from Big Pink. After a Robbie Robertson guitar intro that
sounds as if it's being fed through Garth Hudson's Lowrey organ at its most
distorted, his aching baritone launches into the first reproachful
line of `Tears of Rage`. As it arches over `arms`, you can't help thinking
of Ray Charles, the singer who more than any other shaped this unlikely
white soul voice from Stratford, Ontario. And by the end of the first
chorus you realize why, in an almost unspoken way, Manuel's fellow
Band vocalists Levon Helm and Rick Danko always looked upon him as the
group's `lead` singer."
"Well, let's see: I
started [in music] at nine and quit. Then got back to it when I was twelve. Then I
became a party star. In fact, I became a party!"
LyricsThe songs that Richard Manuel wrote for the Band became some of the most beautiful music the group ever made, although they never got as much attention and airplay as the Robbie Robertson tunes that made the Band famous. Some examples of Manuel lyrics are:
TributesBoth the reformed Band and Robbie Robertson have recorded songs dedicated to Richard Manuel. Rick Danko sings lead on "Too Soon Gone", the Band's tribute to Richard from the album Jericho. Robbie Robertson wrote the beautiful Manuel tribute "Fallen Angel" for his first solo album.