Jesse Winchester Succumbs To Cancer

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester has died.  The music legend passed way today at his home in Charlottesville, Va.  He was 69.

Photo: John Davisson
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, New Orleans, La.

Although he grew up in Memphis, Winchester was living in Canada to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War when he began his solo career.  Because he couldn’t tour the U.S. at that time, Winchester gathered acclaims for his songwriting.  The Band’s Robbie Robertson produced his 1970 debut album.  Winchester’s first appearance in the U.S. after receiving amnesty was when he performed in Burlington, Vt., in April 1977.

Winchester was a songwriter’s songwriter and his compositions have been covered by just about anyone who’s serious about the craft, including Joan Baez, Jimmy Buffett, Elvis Costello, Jerry Jeff Walker and George Strait.  His songs include “Yankee Lady,” “Quiet About It,” “You’re On My Mind” and “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz.”

Winchester was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011, according to Memphis’s Commercial Appeal newspaper which says the artist was eventually “given a clean bill of health.” 

Winchester was diagnosed with bladder cancer in February and was the subject of several erroneous online death notices earlier this month.  

“Elvis Costello sent me a lovely condolence note,” said Winchester’s wife, Cindy, according to the Commercial Appeal. “When he learned that the rumor of Jesse’s death [was] false, Elvis replied, ‘Jesse continues to be a very surprising fellow.’”

In addition to his wife, Winchester is survived by a brother and sister, three children, one step daughter and five grandchildren.