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Richard Manuel

[Richard Manuel, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dec 1971. Photo by Ernst Haas]

April 3, 1943 - March 4, 1986. Too soon gone.

"Isn't everybody dreaming?--then the voice I hear is real.
Out of all the idle scheming, can't we have something to feel?"
--"In a Station", Richard Manuel

[Quotes] [Sound Samples] [Video Clips] [Lyrics] [Tributes] [Albums] [Photos] [Films] [Videos] [Facebook] [Wikipedia]

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 original group.

Quotes about Richard Manuel

"Richard Manuel was a whole show unto himself. He was hot. He was about the best singer I'd ever heard; most people said he reminded them of Ray Charles. He'd do those ballads, and the ladies would swoon. To me that became the highlight of our show."
--Levon Helm

"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."
--Rick Danko

"Richard not only had the voice, he had this great rhythmic feel..."
--Garth Hudson

"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."
--John Simon

"I was madly in love with Richard... At the time, [1975] 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."
--Eric Clapton

"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."
--Barney Hoskyns

"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!"
--Richard Manuel

Sound Samples

"He Don't Love You" (1965) AU file
"Katie's Been Gone" (1967) MPEG3-file
"King Harvest" (1968) MPEG3-file [RealAudio]
"Saved" (1972) AU file
"Hobo Jungle" (1976) AU file
"Georgia on My Mind" (1977) AU file
"She Knows" (1986) AU file

Video Clips

"Tears of Rage" (1969) [RealVideo] [QuickTime](1.2MB)
"Georgia" (1976) [RealVideo](450Kb/s)
"King Harvest" (1983) [RealVideo] [QuickTime](2.7MB)
"You Don't Know Me" (1983) [RealVideo] [QuickTime](4.9MB)
"Chest Fever" (1985) [RealVideo] [QuickTime](2.9MB)


The 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:


Both 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.

"Too Soon Gone" MPEG-2 file
"Fallen Angel" MPEG-3 file

Eric Clapton recorded his own tribute to Richard Manel, "Holy Mother", on the 1986 album August.

Richard Manuel's grave is at the Avondale cemetary in Stratford, Ontario. Richard's hometown Stratford honoured him in 2004 with a sidewalk star and a memorial bench.

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