|Birth Day:||December 29, 1943|
|Death Date:||Dec 10, 1999 (age 55)|
Vocalist and bass guitarist for Canadian rock group The Band who collaborated with artists like Richard Manuel and who also pursued a solo career later on in his life.
As per our current Database, Rick Danko died on Dec 10, 1999 (age 55).
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Rick Danko grew up listening to Hank Williams Sr. and Sam Cooke on the radio.
Danko was born on December 29, 1943 in Blayney, Ontario, a farming community outside the town of Simcoe, the third of four sons in a musical family of Ukrainian descent. He grew up listening to live music at family gatherings and to country music, blues and R&B on the radio. He especially liked country music, and often his mother would let him stay up late to listen to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio.
In 1961, Danko with drummer Levon Helm backed guitarist Lenny Breau on several tracks recorded at Hallmark Studios in Toronto. These tracks are included on the 2003 release The Hallmark Sessions.
Soon joined by pianist Richard Manuel and multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson, the Hawks played with Hawkins through mid-1963. An altercation that year between Danko and Hawkins led Danko, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Manuel, and Hudson to give two-weeks' notice in early 1964, and they parted ways with Hawkins on reasonably amicable terms. The group had been planning to leave Hawkins and strike out together as a band without a frontman, as a team of equal members.
In August 1965, Mary Martin, an assistant to Bob Dylan's manager Albert Grossman, heard the music of the group, then known as Levon and the Hawks. Grossman introduced the band's music to Dylan, who was impressed. The group was performing at Tony Mart's, a popular club in Somers Point, New Jersey, and Grossman's office called the club to speak with Levon and the group about touring with Dylan.
Danko used various basses throughout his career. He played a mid-sixties sunburst Fender Jazz Bass on the 1966 World Tour with Bob Dylan, and on the recording of Music from Big Pink and The Band, as well as early live shows by The Band, including Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival. In late 1969, the Band was given some equipment by Ampeg, which included a fretted Ampeg AEB, a fretless Ampeg AMUB and an Ampeg "Baby Bass", a fiberglass-made electric upright bass. The fretless AMUB, modified with jazz pickups, was his bass of choice for the next years to come, and can be heard prominently on Stage Fright and Cahoots, and was used live, as can be seen in the film Festival Express also in video footage included in the Live at the Academy of Music 1971 release. This fretless bass was sold on eBay from a private collection in early 2012 for US$35,000.00. Danko owned four Gibson Rippers, and would change out the pickups to experiment with different tones. Photos and video show him often playing a blonde one and also a sunburst, which was featured in The Last Waltz.
The Band finally made their concert debut at Bill Graham's Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco in April 1969. By this time, they were already hard at work on their eponymous second album. On that record, sometimes known as the Brown Album, Danko sang what would become two of his signature songs—and two of the group's best-loved classics: "When You Awake" and "Unfaithful Servant." Both songs exemplified Danko's talents as a lead singer and demonstrated his naturally plaintive voice.
Danko is featured in the documentary film Festival Express, about an all-star tour by train across Canada in 1970. On the train, he sings an impromptu version of "Ain't No More Cane" with Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin.
It was Danko who found the pink house on Parnassus Lane in Saugerties, New York, which became known as Big Pink. Danko, Hudson, and Manuel moved in, and Robertson lived nearby. The Band's musical sessions with Dylan took place in the basement of Big Pink, between June and October 1967, generating recordings that were officially released in 1975 as The Basement Tapes. In October, the Hawks began demo recordings for their first album, with Helm rejoining the group in that month. Their manager, Albert Grossman, secured them a recording deal with Capitol Records in late 1967.
After the Band performed its farewell concert (The Last Waltz) at Winterland in November 1976, Danko was offered a contract with Arista Records by Clive Davis, making him the first Band member to record a solo album. Issued in 1977, his self-titled début featured each of his former bandmates in addition to Ronnie Wood, Eric Clapton, Doug Sahm, Blondie Chaplin, and Danko's brother, Terry. The album was primarily recorded at the Band's California studio, Shangri-La. The poor sales of the album destined it for rarity status. After he recorded an unreleased follow-up album, Danko was dropped from Arista. The follow-up album was finally released as a part of Cryin' Heart Blues in 2005.
In early 1979 Danko opened shows for Boz Scaggs. Also in 1979, Danko and Paul Butterfield toured together as the Danko/Butterfield Band. Among the songs they covered was "Sail On, Sailor", originally recorded by the Beach Boys, with Blondie Chaplin, who toured with Danko/Butterfield, on guitar and vocals. From 1983 to 1999, Danko alternated between a reformed version of the Band featuring Helm, Hudson, and guitarist Jim Weider (and, from 1983 to 1986, Manuel); a solo career; and collaborations including award-winning work with singer-songwriter Eric Andersen and Norway's Jonas Fjeld as Danko/Fjeld/Andersen.
Before the Band could promote the album by touring, Danko was severely injured in a car accident, breaking his neck and back in six places, which put him in traction for months. While he was in traction, Danko's girlfriend, Grace Seldner, informed him that she was pregnant, and he proposed from his hospital bed. When they married, Danko was still in a neck brace. Rick and Grace divorced in October 1980.
In 1984, Danko joined members of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and others in a touring company called "The Byrds Twenty-Year Celebration." Several members of this band performed solo songs to start the show including Danko, who performed "Mystery Train". In 1989, he toured with Levon Helm and Garth Hudson as part of Ringo Starr's first All-Starr Band. On July 21, 1990, in Roger Waters's stage production of The Wall Concert in Berlin, Danko sang on the Pink Floyd songs "Comfortably Numb" and "Mother", the former with Van Morrison, Roger Waters, and Levon Helm, and the latter with Helm and Sinéad O'Connor. He recorded demos and made a number of appearances on albums by other artists throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and, in 1997, released Rick Danko in Concert. Two years later, a third solo album (Live on Breeze Hill) was released, and Danko was at work on a fourth (Times Like These) at the time of his death.
He was survived by his second wife, Elizabeth (died 2013), whom he had married in 1989; a stepson, Justin and a daughter Lisa, from his first marriage. His son Eli, from Danko's first marriage, died in 1989 at age 18 from asphyxiation after heavy drinking while studying at the State University of New York at Albany. Danko was buried next to Eli at Woodstock Cemetery, Woodstock, New York.
In the meantime, the Band (without Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel) recorded three more albums, and Danko teamed with Fjeld and Andersen for two trio albums, Danko/Fjeld/Andersen in 1991 and Ridin' on the Blinds in 1994.
In 1994, Danko was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Band.
Danko struggled with heroin addiction. On May 6, 1997, he was arrested in Japan for drug smuggling after his wife sent him heroin. Danko pleaded not guilty, but acknowledged having used heroin and stated that he would seek help if he were allowed to return to the United States. After spending 10 and one-half weeks in prison, Danko was released and given a suspended sentence.
On December 10, 1999, days after the end of a brief tour of the Midwest that included two shows in the Chicago area and a final gig at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Danko died in his sleep at his home in Marbletown, New York. The cause of death was heart failure. He was 55.
The Drive-By Truckers' song "Danko/Manuel," written by Jason Isbell, was released on their album The Dirty South in 2004. Steve Forbert released "Wild as the Wind (A Tribute to Rick Danko)" on Just Like There's Nothin' To It in 2004. Martin Hagfors honored Danko on the Home Groan song You Made a Difference in 2000.
Currently, Rick Danko is 78 years, 10 months and 28 days old. Rick Danko will celebrate 79th birthday on a Thursday 29th of December 2022.
Find out about Rick Danko birthday activities in timeline view here.