David Lindley, Multi-Talented Guitarist & Notable Session Musician, Dies at 78
Lindley’s guitar and fiddle skills made him a go-to collaborator for Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and others.
David Lindley performs during New Orleans by the Bay at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 20, 1998 in Mountain View, California.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
David Lindley, a notable Los Angeles session musician known for his work and collaborations with numerous stars during the 1970s and ’80s, died on Friday (March 3). He was 78.
The highly talented multi-instrumentalist — whose guitar and fiddle skills made him a go-to collaborator for icons like Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart and others — had been ill for a number of months, according to the Los Angeles Times. A cause of death was not provided.
“The loss of David Lindley is a huge one,” Jason Isbell wrote on Twitter. “Without his influence my music would sound completely different. I was genuinely obsessed with his playing from the first time I heard it. The man was a giant.”
Graham Nash also paid tribute on Instagram to Lindley, calling him “one of the most talented musicians there has ever been.” He added, “David could play pretty much any instrument you put in front of him with incredible versatility and expression.”
Lindley was born in San Marino, Calif., on March 21, 1944. He grew up surrounded by music and began playing banjo and fiddle as a child. By his early twenties, Lindley had developed an interest in electric music and formed the psychedelic folk-rock band Kaleidoscope. The group released its debut album, Side Trips, in 1967. That same year, he worked as a session musician on Leonard Cohen’s first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, according to the Times.
After splitting with Kaleidoscope in 1970 following the release of four albums, Lindley joined Jackson Browne’s band, establishing himself on albums like 1973’s For Everyman, 1974’s Late for the Sky and 1977’s Running on Empty. During his time with Browne, Lindley also joined studio sessions with other notable artists during the mid-’70s, including Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, Crosby & Nash, Rod Stewart and Ry Cooder.
In the early 1980s, Lindley put his session work on hold and formed the group El Rayo-X, which went on to release two albums. Later that decade, he appeared on Bob Dylan’s Under the Red Sky, Iggy Pop’s Brick by Brick and John Prine’s The Missing Years. During the ’90s, Lindley collaborated on albums releases with avant-garde guitarist Henry Kaiser and Jordanian oud player Hani Naser. He reunited with Browne for a tour of Spain in 2006.
Lindley released his last solo album, Big Twang, in 2007. That same year, he and Kaiser scored Werner Herzog’s documentary Encounters at the End of the World.
See more tributes on social media to Lindley below.
It’s so sad to hear of David Lindley’s passing. He was a giant among musicians. Always his unique sound and style gave him away in one note. My thoughts are with his family.
— Peter Frampton (@peterframpton) March 4, 2023
The loss of David Lindley is a huge one- Without his influence my music would sound completely different. I was genuinely obsessed with his playing from the first time I heard it. The man was a giant.
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) March 3, 2023
Musician David Lindley Dead at 78 Years Old – Rolling Stone.
That final cadenza on that one live version of Jackson Browne’’s Running On Empty is the greatest recorded live song ending EVER. Gawd Bless You, El Rayo X aka David Lindley !
— Vernon Reid (@vurnt22) March 4, 2023
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