‘Brand New Key’ folk singer Melanie dies, aged 76

25 January 2024, 09:54

Huge crowds gather for Woodstock in 1969

By Mayer Nissim

Melanie had hits like 'Ruby Tuesday, 'Look What They've Done to My Song Ma' and 'Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)'.

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Folk-pop icon Melanie, who played memorable sets at Woodstock in 1969 and Glastonbury in 1971, has died at the age of 76.

Her children Leilah, Jeordie, and Beau Jarred confirmed the news of her passing on her Facebook and Patreon pages.

"This is the hardest post for us to write, and there are so many things we want to say, first, and there’s no easy way except to say it," they wrote.

"Mom passed, peacefully, out of this world and into the next on January, 23rd, 2024."

They continued: "We are heartbroken, but want to thank each and every one of you for the affection you have for our Mother, and to tell you that she loved all of you so much!

Melanie - Brand New Key (Remastered Audio)

"She was one of the most talented, strong and passionate women of the era and every word she wrote, every note she sang reflected that.

"Our world is much dimmer, the colors of a dreary, rainy Tennessee pale with her absence today, but we know that she is still here, smiling down on all of us, on all of you, from the stars."

Melanie live in London in 1972
Melanie live in London in 1972. Picture: Getty Images

Born Melanie Safla in Queens, New York, but known to fans the world over as just Melanie, was just 22 years old when she played a 20 minute set at Woodstock between Ravi Shankar and Arlo Guthrie.

As well as marking the Summer Solstice at Glastonbury Fayre in 1971, she returned 40 years later for a set at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival.

Melanie's biggest hit was the chart-topping 'Brand New Key', and she also scored hits with a cover of The Rolling Stones' 'Ruby Tuesday', her 'Look What They've Done to My Song Ma', and the Woodstock-inspired 'Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)'.

'Brand New Key' was famously parodied in the number one hit 'Combine Harvester' by the Wurzels in 1976.

Melanie at Woodstock

Melanie had been working on her 32nd studio album Second Hand Smoke at the time of her passing.

Songs recorded for the album include Morrissey's 'Ouija Board Ouija Board' and Nine Inch Nails’ 'Hurt', The Hollywood Reporter says, the latter a song memorably covered by Johnny Cash shortly before his death.

She had only recently signed a new management deal with journalist and author Dave Thompson.

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