Richard George Manuel (April 3, 1943 – March 4, 1986) was a Canadian composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as a pianist and lead singer of the Band. He was a member of the original band from 1967 to 1976 and the re-formed band from 1986 until his death.
Manuel’s singing alternated between a soul-influenced baritone that drew frequent comparisons to Ray Charles and a delicate falsetto. Though The Band had three vocalists sharing lead and harmony parts, Manuel was often seen as the group’s primary vocalist.
On March 4, 1986, after a gig at the Cheek to Cheek Lounge in Winter Park, Florida (a suburb of Orlando, Florida), Manuel died by suicide. He had appeared to be in relatively good spirits at the concert but ominously “thanked [Hudson] profusely for twenty-five years of good music and appreciation” as the latter musician packed his keyboards and synthesizers to be shipped to the next venue after the show. Danko (who also struggled with substance abuse) confronted Manuel about his alcohol use after the show. The Band eventually returned to the Langford Hotel, down the block from the Cheek to Cheek Lounge, and Manuel talked with Helm about music, people and film in Helm’s room. According to Helm, at around 2:30 in the morning, Manuel said he needed to get something from his room. Upon returning to his room, he awoke his wife, Arlie, who observed that “he was all pissed off about something”; Manuel claimed that his frustration stemmed from the quality of the piano at the venue. When Arlie enjoined him to come to bed, he lay down with his clothes on. After she resumed sleeping, it is believed that he finished one last bottle of Grand Marnier before hanging himself in the bathroom sometime before 3:30. Arlie Manuel discovered her husband’s body along with the depleted bottle of liqueur and a small amount of cocaine the following morning. He was buried a week later in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario.
At the end of March, 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.” A blood toxicology report indicated that Manuel was drunk and had ingested cocaine within 12 to 24 hours of his death. (by wikipedia)
And this album is alive document, chronicling two intimate live shows Manuel performed at The Getaway, a nightclub in Saugerties, New York on 12 October 1985.
Whispering Pines: Live at the Getaway is a live recording by Canadian singer Richard Manuel, chronicling two intimate live shows Manuel performed at The Getaway, a nightclub in Saugerties, New York on October 12, 1985. Released in Japan in March 2002, it is the first solo release from Manuel, who, unlike his former mates from The Band never recorded a proper solo album.
Leaning on Ray Charles numbers alongside songs he sang with The Band, songs he had known for upwards of twenty years, the performance is laid-back, like a concert for friends and wellwishers. Joining Manuel are Rick Danko and Jim Weider, both fellow members of The Band, and harmonica player Sredni Vollmer.
The album was re-released in 2005 on the Canadian Other People’s Music label, with an additional four tracks, though this version lacks the alternate version of “Georgia On My Mind” that had ended the original release. Among the bonus tracks is a loose jam that features Manuel’s dog, Mitzi, screeching out a vocal line while The Band plays a blues line behind. (by wikipedia)
Singer/songwriter/pianist Richard Manuel never actually made any formal solo recordings apart from his membership in the Band, but this posthumously released album presents a club date he played in Saugerties, NY, less than five months before he committed suicide on March 4, 1986. Manuel accompanies himself on piano, singing songs from the Band repertoire (“Across the Great Divide,” “King Harvest [Has Surely Come],” “I Shall Be Released,” “The Shape I’m In,” “Chest Fever”), including a couple (“Whispering Pines,” “Tears of Rage”) on which he has co-songwriting credits. He also demonstrates his major influences by performing music by and associated with Fats Domino (“Grow Too Old”) and Ray Charles (“Georgia on My Mind,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Hard Times”).
And he plays a couple of piano instrumentals. He has friends in the audience who sometimes come up and join him, notably fellow Band member Rick Danko, who provides vocal and guitar support on several tracks, and guitarist Jim Weider, who was a member of later configurations of the Band. Manuel’s contributions to the Band tended to be overshadowed by other group members, but here, even shortly before his death, he makes a strong impression with his barrelhouse piano work and expressive vocals, emphasizing the loss to music that was soon to come. (by William Ruhlmann)
Richard Manuel (piano, vocals, harmonica)
Rick Danko (guitar, vocals on 07., 11., 16. + 17.)
Sredni Vollmer ( harmonica on 11., 14. + 17.)
Jim Weider (guitar on 04. – 06., 11. + 14.)
Rick Danko (bass on 21.)
Levon Helm (drums on 21.)
Garth Hudson (piano on 21.)
Mitzi, the dog (vocals on 21.)
01. Grow Too Old (Charles/Bartholomew/Domino) 3.08
02. Georgia On My Mind (Carmichael/Gorrell) 2.35
03. Instrumental #1 “Jazz” (Manuel) 3.26
04. Across The Great Divide (Robertson) 3.24
05. You Don’t Know Me (Walker/Arnold) 3.06
06. King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (Robertson) 4.11
07. I Shall Be Released (Dylan) 3.52
08. The Shape I’m In (Robertson) 4.20
09. Instrumental #2 “Piano” (Manuel) 1.51
10. Miss Otis Regrets (Porter) 4.27
11. Crazy Mama (Cale) 6.19
12. She Knows (Griffin/Royer) 3.38
13. Hard Times (Charles) 2.57
14. Chest Fever (Robertson) 5.56
15. Whispering Pines (Manuel/Robertson) 4.29
16. Tears Of Rage (Dylan/Manuel) 4.14
17. Across The Great Divide (Alternative Version) (Robertson) 3.27
18. Piano Quickies #1 (Manuel) 2.25
19. Piano Quickies #2 (Manuel) 1.19
20. Piano Quickies #3 (Richard Manuel) 2.25
21. Mitzi’s Blues (Manuel) 3.17
5 tribute songs:
22. Fallen Angel (Robbie Robertson) 5.51
23. If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead) (Counting Crows) 3.52
24. Holy Mother (Eric Clapton) 4.54
25. Song For Richard Manuel (Head Of Femur) 3.27
26. Danko Manuel (Drive By Truckers) 5.41