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Soulful Singer-Songwriter Phoebe Snow Dead at 60

Blues-folk vocalist succumbs to complications of a cerebral hemorrhage

April 26, 2011 4:25 PM ET
Soulful Singer-Songwriter Phoebe Snow Dead at 60
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Phoebe Snow, the singer and songwriter best known for her bluesy voice and the 1975 hit "Poetry Man," died today at the age of 60 from complications of a 2010 cerebral hemorrhage. According to Snow's manager Sue Cameron, the singer had suffered blood clots, pneumonia and congestive heart failure in the time since her stroke. 

Read Rolling Stone's 1975 Cover Story on Phoebe Snow

Snow came to prominence in the Seventies as a folk guitarist but broke through by integrating elements of jazz and blues into her music. In 1975, "Poetry Man" became a Top Five hit, and she appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone and as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She stepped away from the spotlight shortly afterward to care for her daughter Valerie, who was born with significant brain damage. Though Snow would continue to record and perform until 2008, she spent much of her time looking after her daughter until Valerie died in 2007.

Contest: Choose the Cover of Rolling Stone

During the course of her career, Snow performed with many artists including Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, the Sisters of Glory, Queen, Bonnie Raitt and Lou Rawls. She was also a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show and performed at Stern's wedding in 2008.

UPDATE: Though early reports claimed that Snow died at 58, the New York Times has confirmed that she was 60.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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