Singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester dies at age 69

TORONTO — Jesse Winchester, a U.S.-born singer who established himself in Montreal after dodging the Vietnam War and went on to write songs covered by the likes of Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett and Joan Baez has died of cancer. He was 69.

His death was announced on his official Facebook page Friday.

“Friends, our sweet Jesse died peacefully in his sleep this morning,” the update reads. “Bless his loving heart.”

Winchester was born in Louisiana and raised around the U.S. South, but he didn’t begin his music career in earnest until moving to Quebec in 1967. There, he began performing solo in coffee houses around Montreal and the Canadian East Coast.

Winchester was a protege of the Band’s Robbie Robertson, who produced and played guitar on Winchester’s self-titled debut album and brought Band-mate Levon Helm along to play drums and mandolin.

Winchester’s second album, 1972’s “Third Down, 110 to Go” featured tracks produced by Todd Rundgren. He continued to release material at a steady clip until 1981’s “Talk Memphis,” after which he took a seven-year break from recording. That album, however, contained Winchester’s biggest U.S. hit, “Say What.”

Although large-scale mainstream success eluded Winchester, his songs were covered by an array of musicians including Elvis Costello, Anne Murray, Wynona Judd, Emmylou Harris, the Everly Brothers, Jimmy Buffett and Joan Baez.

Some of his best known songs include “Yankee Lady,” “Biloxi,” “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz” and “Mississippi, You’re On My Mind.”

After living in Canada for decades, Winchester moved back to the U.S. early last decade. He died at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Winchester was nominated for three Juno Awards, including country male vocalist of the year in 1990 and, most recently, best roots and traditional album for “Gentleman of Leisure” in 2000.

In September 2012, artists including James Taylor, Lucinda Williams, Vince Gill and Jimmy Buffett performed covers of Winchester’s tunes for a tribute album called “Quiet About It.”

Winchester reportedly recorded a final album called “A Reasonable Amount of Trouble,” due out this summer.

More in Local News

District takes steps to secure school campuses

Safety measures have been enhanced at Hawthorne and Silver Firs elementary schools in Everett.

Local police join thousands honoring slain Canadian officer

Abbotsford Const. John Davidson was killed Nov. 6 in a shootout with a suspected car thief.

Hard work is paying off for Mariner High senior

Mey Ly has excelled in school since moving here from Cambodia; she also serves as an intrepreter.

1 arrested after SWAT team moves in on Marysville house

The incident was connected to an earlier robbery.

Darrington School Board race might come down to a coin flip

With a one-vote difference, a single ballot in Skagit County remains to be counted.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

County Council upholds ban on safe heroin injection sites

At Monday’s public hearing, more than 15 people spoke in support of the ban. No one spoke against it.

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

Most Read