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Tribute: Jesse Winchester

Update 4/7/14 - 4:00 PM
The family of Jesse Winchester has posted to his Facebook page:
Dad hasn't passed yet, though he is calm and at peace.

Update 4/7/14 - 9:00 AM
There are now reports that Mr. Winchester has not died although he is gravely ill.  Bob Mehr of Scripps Newspapers posted on Twitter:
Spoke with Jesse Winchester's wife Cindy who says rumors of his passing are FALSE. He's in hospice care at home but "resting comfortably."

Jesse Winchester is alive and in hospice care, and "Still teaching us a thing or two about dignity and grace," says his wife Cindy.

Although it has not been confirmed yet by his family, there are reports that singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester has passed away.

Yesterday, Winchester's official Facebook page held the message:
The studio has been quiet - deafeningly so - as Jesse is receiving hospice care, in home and with family. It is a difficult time, but as always and in his own special way, he has something to teach us about grace and beauty.
That was followed on Sunday evening by the following post by Janis Ian:
RIP Jesse Winchester. As underrated a singer as Chet Baker. As underrated a guitarist as Willie Nelson. A man who held the audience in the palm of his hand without moving an inch. One of the best songwriters on earth. Damn damn damn.
Winchester had been battling cancer of the esophagus since 2011.

Jesse was a scholar as a teen, graduating from Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, TN as a Merit finalist, national honor society member and class Salutatorian. Unfortunately, just after his college graduation, he received his draft notice and, instead of serving, moving to Montreal, Canada.

Although he dabbled with music in high school, he didn't go full into the profession until he got to Montreal, joining the band Les Astronautes. Eventually, he started playing in coffeehouses around eastern Canada.

The band's Robbie Robertson took notice of Winchester and helped him get his first record contract, issuing his self-titled debut album in 1970. While he continued to record through the decade, he was unable to tour outside of Canada and became better known for his songs then for his own performances. Artists picked up and recorded a number of his songs including Brand New Tennessee Waltz, Yankee Lady, A Showman's Life and Biloxi.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter granted amnesty to draft evaders and allowed special amnesty for Winchester who had become a Canadian citizen, opening up the U.S. market to Winchester as a touring artist. He didn't move back to the U.S. until 2002.

Between 1970 and 1981, Winchester released seven studio albums before taking a break from the business, living off of his song royalties. He returned in 1988 with Humour Me followed by an even longer eleven year break before 1999's Gentleman of Leisure. Jesse released his tenth and final studio album, Love Filling Station, in 2009.


Anonymous said…
Damn. Another great one gone.
Anonymous said…
He hasn't passed yet.
You can continue to get accurate info from his Facebook page (managed by his family).
lemmo said…
I am thankful I got to hear him play live, 3 or 4 times, most recently in November. It was always a great experience. Now, I think I will just be lonely for a while.
Unknown said…
Saw him at the First Encounter Coffee House on Cape Cod. He was warm and engaging, a lovely evening. He was always on my 'to see' list. A sad passing.
Anonymous said…
Godspeed, Sir. Thank you for speaking for so many of us with your beautiful songs and melodies. Sham a ling ding dong good sir, sham a ling ding dong. <3

Anonymous said…
Thank you, but there is no information on Jesse's Facebook page at this writing. Janis Ian's post on her Facebook page apparently was inaccurate.
VVN Network said…
As we stated in the original article, we had reports of Mr. Winchester's passing from reliable sources although they had not been confirmed yet by the family.

It now appears that it is not true; however, may be imminent.

We have updated the article to reflect the current facts.
Last year I asked myself, "Whatever happened to Jesse Winchester?" I looked him up on iTunes & bought a couple of recent (10 years or so) recordings. They were marvelous. Like Warren Zevon (& thousands of others we'll never know) he was mostly ignored by the record industry. I hope a few more will discover his music w/ his passing.
Larry Hall said…
Unfortunately, I only got to see Jesse play live once in 1988. I got to met him after the show. He was one of the kindest, most unassuming, and generous personalities I've met. The world will suffer an enormous loss if he passes. I know my heart will bear a great weight. Thanks for all you've shared, Jesse. You can go knowing you have left more than you took. Thank you for that.