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Richard Manuel

Richard Manuel

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Richard George Manuel was a Canadian composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his contributions to and membership in The Band
The Band
The Band was an acclaimed and influential roots rock group. The original group consisted of Rick Danko , Garth Hudson , Richard Manuel , and Robbie Robertson , and Levon Helm...

.

Early life and career


Richard Manuel was born in Stratford, Ontario
Stratford, Ontario
Stratford is a city on the Avon River in Perth County in southwestern Ontario, Canada with a population of 32,000.When the area was first settled by Europeans in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England. It is the seat of Perth County. Stratford was...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. His father Ed was a mechanic employed by Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

, and his mother was a schoolteacher. He was raised with his three brothers, and the four sang in the church choir. Manuel took piano lessons beginning when he was nine, and enjoyed playing piano and rehearsing with his friends at his home. Some of his childhood influences were Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

, Bobby Bland
Bobby Bland
Robert Calvin Bland better known as Bobby "Blue" Bland, is an American singer of blues and soul. He is an original member of the Beale Streeters, and is sometimes referred to as the "Lion of the Blues"...

, Jimmy Reed
Jimmy Reed
Mathis James "Jimmy" Reed was an American blues musician and songwriter, notable for bringing his distinctive style of blues to mainstream audiences. Reed was a major player in the field of electric blues, as opposed to the more acoustic-based sound of many of his contemporaries...

 and Otis Rush
Otis Rush
Otis Rush is a blues musician, singer and guitarist. His distinctive guitar style features a slow burning sound and long bent notes...

. He was given the nickname "The Beak" by his friends because of his prominent nose.


He and three friends started a band when he was fifteen, originally named the Rebels but later changed to The Revols
The Revols
The Revols were a Canadian band from Stratford, Ontario, Canada, formed in 1957, with Richard Manuel on piano and vocals, John Till on guitar, Ken Kalmusky on bass, Doug Rhodes on vocals and Jim Winkler on Drums...

, in deference to Duane Eddy
Duane Eddy
Duane Eddy is a Grammy Award-winning American guitarist. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he had a string of hit records, produced by Lee Hazlewood, which were noted for their characteristically "twangy" sound, including "Rebel Rouser", "Peter Gunn", and "Because They're Young"...

 and the Rebels. The group also included Ken Kalmusky
Ken Kalmusky
Ken Kalmusky was a Canadian musician born in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, to saxophonist Walter "JoJo" Kalmusky and Mary Kalmusky.-Early career:...

, a founding member of Great Speckled Bird
Great Speckled Bird (band)
Great Speckled Bird was a country rock group formed in 1969 by the Canadian musical duo Ian & Sylvia. Ian Tyson sang, played guitar and composed. Sylvia Tyson sang, composed and occasionally played piano...

, and John Till
John Till
John Till is a Canadian musician. Born in Stratford, Ontario, Till played in local bands until the early 1960s when he was picked to play in Ronnie Hawkins band The Hawks, to replace previous members who had left to tour with Bob Dylan...

, a founding member of the Full Tilt Boogie Band
Full Tilt Boogie Band
Full Tilt Boogie Band was a rock band originally headed by guitarist John Till and then by Janis Joplin until her death in 1970. The band was composed of Till, pianist Richard Bell, bassist Brad Campbell, drummer Clark Pierson, and organist Ken Pearson....

. Manuel developed a rhythmic style of piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

 unique in its usage of inverted chord structures
Chord (music)
A chord in music is any harmonic set of two–three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may for many practical and theoretical purposes be understood as chords...

. He was also a naturally talented vocalist, with a soulful rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

 style, and a rich timbre, often compared to that of Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

. These talents were showcased in The Revols.

Manuel first became acquainted with Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks
Ronnie Hawkins
Ronald "Ronnie" Hawkins is a Juno Award-winning rockabilly musician whose career has spanned more than half a century. Though his career began in Arkansas, USA, where he'd been born and raised, it was in Ontario, Canada where he found success and settled for most of his life...

 when The Revols opened for them in Port Dover, Ontario. According to Levon Helm
Levon Helm
Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm , is an American rock multi-instrumentalist and actor who achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band....

, Hawkins remarked to him about Manuel: "See that kid playing piano? He's got more talent than Van Cliburn
Van Cliburn
Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. is an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at age 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War....

." The two bands once again connected at the Stratford Coliseum in 1961 when The Revols ended a show featuring The Hawks as headliners. After hearing Manuel singing "Georgia on My Mind
Georgia on My Mind
"Georgia on My Mind" is a song written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell . It is the official state song of the U.S. state of Georgia. Gorrell wrote the lyrics for Hoagy's sister, Georgia Carmichael. However, the lyrics of the song are ambiguous enough to refer either to the state or...

", Hawkins hired The Revols' pianist rather than competing with them.

The Hawks


Manuel was eighteen when he joined Ronnie Hawkins
Ronnie Hawkins
Ronald "Ronnie" Hawkins is a Juno Award-winning rockabilly musician whose career has spanned more than half a century. Though his career began in Arkansas, USA, where he'd been born and raised, it was in Ontario, Canada where he found success and settled for most of his life...

' backing group The Hawks. At this time the band already consisted of 21-year-old Levon Helm
Levon Helm
Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm , is an American rock multi-instrumentalist and actor who achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band....

 on drums
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

, 17-year-old Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson, OC; is a Canadian singer-songwriter, and guitarist. He is best known for his membership as the guitarist and primary songwriter within The Band. He was ranked 59th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time...

 on guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

 and 18-year-old Rick Danko
Rick Danko
Richard Clare "Rick" Danko was a Canadian musician and singer, best known as a member of The Band.-Early years :...

 on bass
Bass guitar
The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

. Garth Hudson
Garth Hudson
Eric Garth Hudson is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist. As the organist, keyboardist and saxophonist for Canadian-American rock group The Band, he was a principal architect of the group's unique sound...

, at 24 years old, joined that Christmas. After two years, Manuel left the Hawks and joined with Helm, Robertson, Danko, Hudson and saxophonist Jerry Penfound to form their own band. Singer Bruce Bruno also joined them upon occasion. Initially, they were known as the Levon Helm Sextet (as Helm had accumulated the most time with Hawkins), then later changed their name to the Canadian Squires and then to Levon and the Hawks. With Helm serving as nominal leader due to his longevity with the Hawkins group, it was in fact Manuel who sang most of the songs in the group's repertoire. Manuel was easily the most accomplished vocalist from a technical standpoint. It was as Levon and the Hawks, after the departure of Penfound and Bruno, that they introduced themselves to their blues hero, Sonny Boy Williamson
Sonny Boy Williamson II
Willie "Sonny Boy" Williamson was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, from Mississippi. He is acknowledged as one of the most charismatic and influential blues musicians, with considerable prowess on the harmonica and highly creative songwriting skills...

. They soon planned a collaboration with Williamson but it never happened due to Williamson's untimely death soon after. In 1965 Helm, Hudson and Robertson helped back American bluesman John P. Hammond
John P. Hammond
John Paul Hammond is an American blues singer and guitarist. The son of record producer John H. Hammond, he is sometimes referred to as "John Hammond, Jr.".-Background:...

 on his album So Many Roads. Hammond recommended The Hawks to Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

, who tapped them to serve as his backing band
Backup band
A backing band or backup band is a musical ensemble that accompanies an artist at a live performance or on a recording. This can either be an established, long-standing group that has little or no change in membership, or it may be an ad hoc group assembled for a single show or a single recording...

 while he switched to an electric sound. In 1966, they toured Europe and the U.S. with Dylan and were known for enduring the ire of Dylan's folk fans, and were subjected to much unpleasant hissing and booing. While they continued to believe in their ultimate goal to play and record their own music, Dylan opened doors for them in the music business by introducing them to his manager, Albert Grossman
Albert Grossman
Albert Bernard Grossman was an American entrepreneur and manager in the American folk music scene and rock and roll. He was most famous as the manager of Bob Dylan between 1962 and 1970.-Biography:...

, and taught them by example about writing their own material.

Big Pink



In 1967, while Dylan recovered from a motorcycle accident in Woodstock, New York
Woodstock, New York
Woodstock is a town in Ulster County, New York, United States. The population was 5,884 at the 2010 census, down from 6,241 at the 2000 census.The Town of Woodstock is in the northern part of the county...

, the group moved there also, renting a pink house on 100 acre (0.404686 km²) and were paid a retainer by Dylan. Not having to be constantly working and traveling allowed them to experiment with a new sound garnered from the country, soul, rhythm and blues, gospel and rockabilly
Rockabilly
Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating to the early 1950s.The term rockabilly is a portmanteau of rock and hillbilly, the latter a reference to the country music that contributed strongly to the style's development...

 music that they loved. During this time, while Helm had been on a hiatus from the Dylan tour, Manuel taught himself to play drums
Drum kit
A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

 in a technically irreverent, "loosey-goosey" style, a little behind the beat similar to jazz drumming. In the Band era he would frequently assume the drummer's stool when Helm played mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

 or guitar. Examples of this are the songs "Rag Mama Rag" and "Evangeline
Evangeline
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, is an epic poem published in 1847 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.The idea for the poem came from...

". Manuel's drumming is predominant on the album Cahoots
Cahoots
Cahoots is the fourth album by Canadian/American rock group The Band released in 1971 and was their last all-original studio album for four years. It received only mixed reviews when it first appeared. Robbie Robertson wrote or co-wrote all but one of the album tracks, Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My...

.
The early months in Woodstock also allowed Manuel and Robertson to develop as songwriters. After recording numerous demos, and signing with Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, they secured a 10-album contract with Capitol Records
Capitol Records
Capitol Records is a major United States based record label, formerly located in Los Angeles, but operating in New York City as part of Capitol Music Group. Its former headquarters building, the Capitol Tower, is a major landmark near the corner of Hollywood and Vine...

 in early 1968. They originally signed as "The Crackers" (although "The Honkies" had also been considered). Helm rejoined the fold, as sessions got under way for the recording of their debut album Music from Big Pink
Music from Big Pink
Music from Big Pink is the 1968 debut album by rock band The Band. It features the well-known song, "The Weight". The music was composed partly in 'Big Pink', a house shared by Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson in West Saugerties, in upstate New York...

. The group proceeded to take what they had learned with Dylan and used one of his songs in the process. They combined it with their idea of the perfect album, switching solos, and singing harmony modeled after the gospel sound of musical heroes, The Staple Singers
The Staple Singers
The Staple Singers were an American gospel, soul, and R&B singing group. Roebuck "Pops" Staples , the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha , Pervis , Yvonne , and Mavis...

. Manuel contributed four songs, including the oft-covered "Tears of Rage
Tears of Rage
"Tears of Rage" is a song written by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel, the former writing the lyrics and the melody being provided by the latter.-Initial recordings:...

" which he co-wrote with Dylan. Robertson contributed the same number of his own songs. A cover of "Long Black Veil" and a Danko-Dylan collaboration, "This Wheel's on Fire
This Wheel's on Fire
This Wheel's on Fire - Levon Helm and the Story of The Band is the 1993 autobiography of actor and musician Levon Helm, focusing on his career as a member of the rock group The Band...

" rounded out the album, which was released with the group name as simply The Band
The Band
The Band was an acclaimed and influential roots rock group. The original group consisted of Rick Danko , Garth Hudson , Richard Manuel , and Robbie Robertson , and Levon Helm...

, and this would be their name for the rest of the group's existence. While only reaching #30 on the Billboard charts, the album would be profoundly influential upon the nascent country-rock movement; "Tears of Rage
Tears of Rage
"Tears of Rage" is a song written by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel, the former writing the lyrics and the melody being provided by the latter.-Initial recordings:...

" and Robertson's "The Weight
The Weight
"The Weight" is a song written by Robbie Robertson. It was released by The Band as Capitol Records single 2269 in 1968, and appeared one week later on the group's debut album Music from Big Pink. The song is listed as #41 on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All Time published in 2004, and...

" would rank among the most covered songs of the epoch. Shortly after the release of the album, the newly financially secure Manuel married his girlfriend, a young model from Toronto named Jane Kristiansen, whom he had dated intermittently since the Hawks days. They would become the parents of two children.

Movie role, move to Malibu


In 1970, Manuel acted in Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 Eliza's Horoscope, an independent Canadian drama film written and directed by Gordon Sheppard. He portrayed "the Bearded composer," performing with stars Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones is an American actor and film director. He has received three Academy Award nominations, winning one as Best Supporting Actor for the 1993 thriller film The Fugitive....

, former Playboy Bunny Elizabeth Moorman and Lila Kedrova
Lila Kedrova
Lila Kedrova was a Russian-born French actress.-Biography:Kedrova claimed to have been born in 1918, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Her parents were Russian opera singers. Lila Kedrova's brother was Nikolay Kedrov, Jr...

.

By mid-1973, the group had once again followed the lead of Dylan who had relocated to Malibu. They commenced work on an album of vintage rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 cover songs entitled Moondog Matinee
Moondog Matinee
Moondog Matinee is the sixth album by Canadian/American rock group The Band released in 1973. It consists entirely of cover material taken from the group's love of R&B and blues music with one exception in their interpretation of the theme from the film The Third Man.The idea had been to replicate...

, in homage to Alan Freed
Alan Freed
Albert James "Alan" Freed , also known as Moondog, was an American disc-jockey. He became internationally known for promoting the mix of blues, country and rhythm and blues music on the radio in the United States and Europe under the name of rock and roll...

's radio show. While he was initially reluctant to perform, the album managed to elicit some of Manuel's finest vocal performances, including renditions of the Bobby Blue Bland R&B standard "Share Your Love With Me" and the Platters' "The Great Pretender
The Great Pretender
"The Great Pretender" is a popular song recorded by The Platters, with Tony Williams on lead vocals, and released as a single on November 3, 1955. The words and music were created by Buck Ram, the Platters' manager and producer who was a successful songwriter before moving into producing and...

". Another highlight was his clearly tongue-in-cheek version of the obscure Leiber and Stoller song "Saved." Levon Helm had this to say about Manuel during this period: "...he was drinking pretty hard, but once he got started, man: drums, piano, play it all, sing, do a lead in one of them high, hard-assed keys to sing in. Richard just knew how a song was supposed to go. Structure, melody; he understood it."

Back with Dylan



The Band played to receptive audiences in the summer of 1973 at the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen
Summer Jam at Watkins Glen
The Summer Jam at Watkins Glen was a 1973 rock festival which once received the Guinness Book of World Records entry for "Largest audience at a pop festival." An estimated 600,000 rock fans came to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway outside of Watkins Glen, New York on July 28, 1973, to see The...

 and on a double bill with the Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long...

 at Jersey City's Roosevelt Stadium
Roosevelt Stadium
Roosevelt Stadium was a baseball park at Droyer's Point in Jersey City, New Jersey. It opened in April 1937 and hosted high-minor league baseball, seven major league baseball games, plus championship boxing matches, top-name musical acts, important regional high school football and even soccer...

. That fall the group backed up Dylan on his first proper release in three years, Planet Waves
Planet Waves
Planet Waves is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's 14th studio album, released by Asylum Records in January 1974....

and were tapped to serve as his backup group once more on his first tour in eight years.

The concerts of the Bob Dylan and The Band 1974 Tour
Bob Dylan and The Band 1974 Tour
The Bob Dylan and The Band 1974 Tour was a two-month concert tour in early 1974 that featured Bob Dylan, in his first real tour in eight years, performing with The Band, who as The Hawks had once been his little-known backing band...

, lasting from January 3 to February 14, 1974, were meandering musical marathons featuring two sets of Dylan backed by The Band, two Band sets, and a Dylan acoustic set. The ensuing live album from the tour, Before the Flood
Before the Flood
Side threeSide four-Personnel:* Bob Dylan – vocal, guitars, harmonica, piano* Robbie Robertson – electric guitar, backing vocal* Richard Manuel – vocal, piano, electric piano, organ, drums* Garth Hudson – Lowrey organ, clavinet, piano, synthesizer, saxophone...

, reveals that Manuel was still capable of reaching the breathtaking falsetto
Falsetto
Falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of the ligamentous edges of the vocal folds, in whole or in part...

 on "I Shall Be Released
I Shall Be Released
"I Shall Be Released" is a 1967 song written by Bob Dylan.The Band played it on their debut album, Music from Big Pink , with Richard Manuel singing lead vocals, and Rick Danko and Levon Helm harmonizing in the chorus...

".

The Last Waltz


The Band continued touring throughout 1974, supporting Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young alongside Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell, CC is a Canadian musician, singer songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in her native Saskatchewan and Western Canada and then busking in the streets and dives of Toronto...

 and The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, The Beach Boys signed to Capitol Records in 1962...

 on a grueling summer stadium tour. By 1975, Robertson had expressed his dissatisfaction with touring and acting in an increasingly parental capacity, as the move to Malibu had seen him take the managerial reins on a de facto basis from an increasingly diffident Grossman. According to Levon Helm, Manuel was now consuming eight bottles of Grand Marnier
Grand Marnier
Grand Marnier is a liqueur created in 1880 by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle. It is made from a blend of true cognacs and distilled essence of bitter orange. Grand Marnier is 40% alcohol . It is produced in several varieties, most of which can be consumed "neat" as a digestif and can be used in...

 every day on top of a prodigious cocaine addiction. After a brief reconciliation that resulted in the birth of a son, the Manuels divorced in 1976. During that period, he developed a kinship with the similarly despondent Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and...

 and was a driving force behind the boozy sessions that make up the guitarist's 1976 release No Reason To Cry
No Reason to Cry
No Reason to Cry is an album by Eric Clapton, released in 1976. No Reason to Cry was released in CD format on October 25, 1990. The album is notable for containing a duet with Bob Dylan on his otherwise unreleased song "Sign Language."...

(recorded at The Band's new Shangri-La Studios).
On the group's final full fledged tour, Manuel was still recovering from a car accident earlier in the year; several tour dates were scrapped after a power-boating accident in the Austin, Texas area that summer which necessitated the hiring of Tibetan healers in a scenario reminiscent of Robertson's pre-show hypnosis before their first concert as The Band. The quality of shows was frequently contingent upon Manuel's relative sobriety (or lack thereof), as he was more often than not too drunk to play effectively. As he was unable to sustain the high vocal register of "Tears of Rage
Tears of Rage
"Tears of Rage" is a song written by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel, the former writing the lyrics and the melody being provided by the latter.-Initial recordings:...

" or "In a Station", his most notable contributions were confined to impassioned, raging versions of the prophetic "The Shape I'm In", "Rockin' Chair" and "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
"King Harvest " is a song written by Robbie Robertson for The Band which originally appeared as the final track on their second album, The Band....

", propelled by his hoarse (though still very expressive) voice.

The Band played its final show at Winterland Arena in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day in 1976 with several guests; it was filmed in 35 mm by Robertson cohort and longtime Band fan Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

 for the documentary
Documentary
A documentary is a creative work of non-fiction, including:* Documentary film, including television* Radio documentary* Documentary photographyRelated terms include:...

, The Last Waltz
The Last Waltz
The Last Waltz was a concert by the rock group The Band, held on American Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco...

. Manuel can be heard, but hardly seen, singing 'I Shall Be Released', surrounded by various guest stars. While Manuel's famed sense of humor and warm, congenial nature emerged in the interview segments, so did his shyness, deferential attitude – and inebriation. Initially the group intended to end live performances as The Band, but each member was kept on a $2,500 a week retainer by a prospective record company. However, by 1978, the group had drifted apart.

Attempted comeback



Taking advantage of this new solace, Manuel moved to Garth Hudson
Garth Hudson
Eric Garth Hudson is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist. As the organist, keyboardist and saxophonist for Canadian-American rock group The Band, he was a principal architect of the group's unique sound...

's ranch outside Malibu. He entered an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, became sober for the first time in years and eventually remarried. Along with Hudson and Robertson, he contributed to the soundtrack of Raging Bull and played little-publicized gigs in L.A.-area clubs as leader of The Pencils (with Terry Danko
Terry Danko
Terry Danko is a Canadian musician and songwriter who has been active since childhood. He has written, performed and recorded his own material as a solo artist and as a member of a number of groups, such as Tin Pan Alley, Bearfoot and Terry Danko, Marty Grebb and Friends.Danko has also worked as...

 on lead guitar). By 1980, Rick Danko and Manuel had begun to tour regularly as an acoustic duo.

The Band reformed in 1983 with The Cate Brothers
Cate Brothers
The Cate Brothers are the singer-songwriter-musician duo of Earl and Ernie Cate, twin brothers from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who in the mid 1960s became performers of southern soul music at clubs and dances throughout the regional South of the United States. Both brothers are singers, with Earl on...

 and Jim Weider
Jim Weider
Jim Weider is a guitarist best known for his work with The Band. He joined the reformed version of The Band in 1985 to replace original guitarist Robbie Robertson....

 augmenting the four returning members of the group - Manuel, Helm, Hudson, and Danko. Freed from his addictions, Manuel was initially in his best shape since the "Big Pink" era. Having reclaimed some of his vocal range lost in the years of drug abuse, Manuel performed old hits such as "The Shape I'm In", "Chest Fever
Chest Fever
"Chest Fever" is a song recorded by The Band on its 1968 debut, Music from Big Pink. It is, according to Peter Viney, a historian of the group, “the Big Pink track that has appeared on most subsequent live albums and compilations,” second only to The Weight.The music for the piece was written by...

", and "I Shall Be Released" alongside favorites such as Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold
Eddy Arnold
Richard Edward Arnold , known professionally as Eddy Arnold, was an American country music singer who performed for six decades. He was a so-called Nashville sound innovator of the late 1950s, and scored 147 songs on the Billboard country music charts, second only to George Jones. He sold more...

's "You Don't Know Me" and "She Knows". All of that changed when former Band manager Albert Grossman—a father figure and confidante to the singer, not to mention an instrumental figure in any possible solo career—suddenly died in late January 1986. Depressed by Grossman's death, dwindling access to prestigious concert venues and the perception that The Band had stagnated and had become a traveling jukebox, Manuel returned to his alcohol and cocaine addictions.

Suicide


On March 4, 1986, after a gig at the Cheek to Cheek Lounge outside Orlando
Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a city in the central region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Orange County, and the center of the Greater Orlando metropolitan area. According to the 2010 US Census, the city had a population of 238,300, making Orlando the 79th largest city in the United States...

, in Winter Park, Florida
Winter Park, Florida
Winter Park is a suburban city in Orange County, Florida, United States. The population was 24,090 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 estimates, the city had a population of 28,083. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area...

, Manuel committed suicide. He had appeared to be in relatively good "spirits" but ominously thanked Hudson for "twenty-five years of incredible music". The Band returned to the Quality Inn, down the block from the Cheek to Cheek Lounge, and Manuel talked with Levon Helm about music, film, etc., in Helm's room. According to Helm, at around 2:30 Manuel said he needed to get something from his room. Upon returning to his motel room, it is believed that he finished one last bottle of Grand Marnier before hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 himself. Manuel's wife Arlie—also intoxicated at the time—discovered his body along with the depleted bottle and a small amount of cocaine the following morning. He was buried a week later in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario
Stratford, Ontario
Stratford is a city on the Avon River in Perth County in southwestern Ontario, Canada with a population of 32,000.When the area was first settled by Europeans in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England. It is the seat of Perth County. Stratford was...

.

On the end of March, Rick Danko declared: "I can't believe in a million years that he meant for that to happen. There was just no sign (...) I have to think this was just a goddamned silly accident." On the same month, the results of a blood toxicology report were released, indicating that Manuel was drunk and had ingested cocaine the day he died.

Posthumous recognition


In 2003, Japan's Dreamsville Records released Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway
Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway
Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway is a live document by Richard Manuel, chronicling two intimate live shows Manuel performed at The Getaway, a nightclub in Saugerties, New York on October 12, 1985...

, which contains selections from a solo concert recorded in Saugerties, New York
Saugerties (village), New York
Saugerties is a village in Ulster County, New York, USA. The population was 4,955 at the 2000 census.The Village of Saugerties is a Town in the eastern part of the Town of Saugerties. U.S. Route 9W passes through the village...

 in October 1985.

Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and...

's 1986 album, August
August (album)
August is an album by blues rocker Eric Clapton, released in 1986. Primarily produced byPhil Collins, in association with longtime Clapton associate Tom Dowd, it became Clapton's biggest-selling LP to date....

, features his tribute to Richard Manuel entitled "Holy Mother". San Francisco-area group, The Call
The Call (band)
The Call was an American rock band from Santa Cruz, California active from 1980 to 2000.-Biography:The Call formed in Santa Cruz in 1980 by vocalist/guitarist Michael Been, Scott Musick, and Tom Ferrier. Been and Musick were originally from Oklahoma...

, who had collaborated with former Band members Hudson and Robertson, dedicated the video for their 1986 single, "Everywhere I Go" to Manuel. Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson
Robbie Robertson, OC; is a Canadian singer-songwriter, and guitarist. He is best known for his membership as the guitarist and primary songwriter within The Band. He was ranked 59th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time...

's self-titled album from 1987 opens with "Fallen Angel", a song dedicated to his former bandmate.

Counting Crows
Counting Crows
Counting Crows is an American rock band originating from Berkeley, California. Formed in 1991, the group gained popularity following the release of its debut album in 1993, August and Everything After, which featured the hit single "Mr. Jones"...

 recorded the song "If I Could Give All My Love -or- Richard Manuel Is Dead
If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead)
"If I Could Give All My Love " is a single by the American rock band Counting Crows. It is the fourth track on their fourth album Hard Candy...

", released on their 2002 album Hard Candy. The Drive-By Truckers' song "Danko/Manuel" was released on their album The Dirty South
The Dirty South (album)
The Dirty South is the fifth album by Alabamian alternative country/Southern rock group Drive-By Truckers, released in 2004. The Dirty South is Drive-By Truckers' third concept album...

in 2004.

Head of Femur included "Song for Richard Manuel" on their 2005 release, Hysterical Stars. 2008 saw Michigan roots quartet Steppin' In It release the album Simple Tunes for Troubled Times, which contains the song "The Ghost of Richard Manuel", while Isaac Gillespie's album 1971 features "Richard Manuel the Pacifier". The Vancouver band Books & Branches' album Caribou Whispers features a song entitled "Richard Manuel". Ray Lamontagne
Ray LaMontagne
Raymond "Ray" Charles Jack LaMontagne is a Grammy-award winning American singer-songwriter. LaMontagne has released four studio albums, Trouble, Till the Sun Turns Black, Gossip in the Grain and God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise. He was born in New Hampshire and was inspired to create music after...

 references the singer during his performance on the BBC's
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 show, Songwriter's Circle.

Discography


Year Album Label Note
2002 Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway
Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway
Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway is a live document by Richard Manuel, chronicling two intimate live shows Manuel performed at The Getaway, a nightclub in Saugerties, New York on October 12, 1985...

Dreamsville *recorded October 12, 1985
2009 Live at O'Toole's Tavern Bear *with Rick Danko
Rick Danko
Richard Clare "Rick" Danko was a Canadian musician and singer, best known as a member of The Band.-Early years :...


*recorded December 13, 1985
2011 Live at the Lone Star Bear *with Rick Danko and Paul Butterfield
Paul Butterfield
Paul Butterfield was an American blues vocalist and harmonica player, who founded the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early 1960s and performed at the original Woodstock Festival...


*recorded in 1984

External links