Singer Melanie, best known for her hugely popular singles “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain”), “Brand New Key” and the Rolling Stones cover “Ruby Tuesday”, has died.
The songwriter's children Leilah, Jeordie and Beau-Jarred announced that she died on January 23 at the age of 76.
“My dears,” they began with a greeting her mother often preferred when writing to fans: “This is the hardest post for us and there are so many things we want to say first and there is no easy one Away.” other than to say it… Mom passed peacefully from this world to the next on January 23, 2024.”
Her cause of death was not immediately announced.
Melanie's children praised her as “one of the most talented, strong and passionate women of the time” and noted that “every word she wrote, every note she sang reflected this.”
Singer Melanie, best known for her hugely popular singles “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)” and “Brand New Key,” has died; pictured around 1970
The songwriter, whose full name was Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk, was remembered by her children Leilah, Jeordie and Beau Jarred, who announced in a Facebook post that she died on January 23 at the age of 76
They asked their fans to light a candle in honor of their mother on Wednesday, January 24th at 10pm Central Time.
“Our world is much bleaker, the colors of a dreary, rainy Tennessee fading with her absence today,” they continued, “but we know that she is still here, smiling down from the stars upon all of us, upon all of you. “.'
Although her winning streak came to an end in the mid-1970s, Melanie continued recording and performing live until the end, and in early January was in the studio working on a new album of cover songs entitled Second Hand Smoke.
Melanie was born Melanie Anne Safka in Astoria, Queens in 1947 and graduated from high school in New Jersey in 1964.
At the urging of her parents, who wanted her to get a college education, she studied acting. But while studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she also worked part-time by singing in folk clubs in Greenwich Village, which played an important role in the surge in popularity that would help singers like Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary become famous .
She was briefly signed to Columbia Records, but her first real success came in 1969 on the smaller label Buddah Records with the single “Bobo's Party”, which topped the charts in France and did well elsewhere in Europe.
The song's success led to television appearances in Europe, and she further expanded her profile when she appeared as one of only three female solo acts at the legendary Woodstock Music and Art Fair in 1969.
The festival served as inspiration for their first US hit Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), which also featured Edwin Hawkins' singers and was released in 1970.
Melanie's children asked their fans to light a candle in her memory on Wednesday, January 24th at 10pm Central Time; pictured with Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang at their induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2018
The singer's hits tapered off after the mid-'70s, but she continued recording and performing until the end, and was reportedly working on a covers album in early January; Seen at the Woodstock 20th anniversary concert in 1989
After success in Europe in 1969, she became one of only three solo females to play Woodstock, and the experience inspired her later hit Lay Down (Candles In The Rain) in 1970; seen in 1969
The song peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, marking her first top 10 single.
Later that year she released a reasonably popular cover of the Rolling Stones classic Ruby Tuesday.
Melanie's biggest hit to date was her 1971 song “Brand New Key,” which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was later certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The song was produced by her husband Peter Schekeryk, who died in 2010.
Although the song's melody and Melanie's croon give the song a sense of childlike wonder, some radio stations and more conservative listeners found the lyrics to be full of sexually suggestive phrases. She later admitted that she understood why some listeners were able to make the connection based on shared symbols in the lyrics, but denied intentionally trying to write sexual lyrics.
Brand New Key was later given a second life when Paul Thomas Anderson used it in his acclaimed 1997 film Boogie Nights.
The song's success helped it stay on the charts throughout 1974, but its chart quickly dried up, although it remained popular with its loyal fanbase for many years to come.
Melanie continued to release studio albums every few years until 2010's Ever Since You Never Heard of Me, filling the recording dry spell in recent years with archived live albums.
Melanie spent her final years near Nashville, Tennessee.
Her three children, Leilah, Jeordie and Beau-Jarred, all followed in her footsteps and became musicians.
Her youngest son, Beau-Jarred, even accompanied his mother on guitar during live performances.
Melanie mused that in her later years she was never given the critical respect that some of her fellow singers who started out in the folk scene received.
She also complained that male singer-songwriters supposedly wrote more intellectual songs than she did.
“Men can be sweet.” Randy Newman can sing Short People and that's okay because he's a guy, he's got something to say. But a girl? “How could it have any social significance,” she said in a 2021 interview with The Guardian.
Their 1971 hit “Brand New Key” reached number one on the charts and was certified gold. It resulted in hits in 1974 and she continued releasing studio LPs until 2010; seen in 1969
Melanie celebrated a triumph late in her career when Jarvis Cocker invited her to a sold-out solo concert at London's Meltdown Festival in 2007, which was released as a concert film; pictured on the cover of their third LP, Candles In The Rain
At the time, she also expressed her bitterness that many listeners considered “Brand New Key” to be a novelty hit due to its nursery rhyme-like sound and her singing delivery.
The singer attracted renewed critical and commercial interest when Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker invited her to perform a solo concert at London's Meltdown Festival in 2007.
Her show sold out despite popular demand and the filmed performance was later released as the concert film Melanie: For One Night Only.
Her recently recorded covers album “Second Hand Smoke” is expected to be released later this year.