"One of the greatest ever to ever play music" – musicians pay tribute to David Lindley, who has died at the age of 78

David Lindley
(Image credit: David Redfern/Redferns)

The respect David Lindley commanded as a player's player has echoed through the guitar world with the news of his passing yesterday (3 March) at the age of 78. Although known best for his work with Jackson Browne, Lindley's musical legacy goes wider and deeper.

"Rest in Peace to one of the greatest ever to ever play music," said Joe Bonamassa in tribute. "David Lindley changed the game for all of us."

No cause of death has yet been given but a fundraiser to help cover for Lindley's medical expenses for an undisclosed illness had been set up earlier this year.

After forming the folk-rock band Kaleidoscope in 1966, Lindley began to share his gifts as a valued and inspirational sideman with respected blues-rock musician Terry Reid in England during the early 70s before he came to the fore in his work with Jackson Browne. Lindley's contributions to 1977's multi-platinum Running On Empty proving to be a highlight with his lap steel solo on the title track is rightly regarded as a masterwork. 

The multi-instrumentalist would also contribute to three Linda Ronstadt albums, Rod Stewart's Atlantic Crossing and A Night On The Town, and Warren Zevon’s eponymous 1976 record.

Ry Cooder hired Lindley for his Bob 'Til You Drop and Jazz albums in the late '70s and the duo continued to collaborate on tours together in later years.

“The loss of David Lindley is a huge one," said Americana musician Jason Isbell in tribute. "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.”

Lindley would explore his own take on new wave with his band El Rayo-X in the early 80s and throughout his career displayed an ability to take to a wide range of stringed instruments as a creative spirit exploring musical possibilities. That perhaps explains why he moved away from mainstream rock in the late '80s, while occasionally returning to contribute to albums from Bob Dylan (1990's Under The Blood Red Sky) And John Prine's 1991 release The Missing Years. 

"David could play pretty much any instrument you put in front of him with incredible versatility and expression," wrote Graham Nash on Instagram. "He was truly a musician’s musician and has been admired with awe and respect for such a long time now."

During the '90s Lindley and experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser released a series of albums built around their field recording expeditions in Madagascar and Norway, but he would return to Browne's band for a Spanish tour in 2006, releasing his last solo album a year later with Big Twang. 


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