The “Brand New Key” and “Lay Down” singer was 76 years old

The singer, who wrote “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” based on her experience at Woodstock, has been working on a covers album this month.

Melanie, a singer who performed at Woodstock in 1969 and had hits with “Brand New Key” and “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” in the early 1970s, died Tuesday at the age of 76. Her advertising company is Glass Onyon PR.

There was no immediate information about the cause of death. But Melanie — full name Melanie Savka — was in the studio earlier this month working on a new recording of cover songs, “Second Hand Smoke,” for the Cleopatra label. The label said it would have been their 32nd studio album.

Her three children, Layla, Jordi, and Beau Jared. Posted a message He wrote on Facebook: “We are sad, but we 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 very much! She was one of the most talented, powerful, and passionate women of that era and every word she wrote and every note she sang reflected that. Our World Darker, the drab, rainy colors of Tennessee are duller with her absence today, but we know she's still here, smiling at all of us, and at all of you, from the stars.

“Each of you light a candle in honor of Melanie. Lift 'em up, raise 'em high, high again. Light up the darkness, and let us all connect in memory of the extraordinary woman who was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend,” her children asked tonight (January 24), at 10 PM Central. For many people.

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Melanie's first hit was “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” a gospel-flavored collaboration with the Edwin Hawkins Singers that reached No. 6 on the Hot 100 in 1970. It was followed in 1971 by “Brand New Key.” Inevitable Hit was considered a kind of children's tune by some and full of sexual innuendo by others. It reached number one, her only top ten hit in the United States. In the United Kingdom, she also reached the top ten with a cover of the Rolling Stones' “Ruby Tuesday.”

“It was the bane of my existence for a few years,” Melanie said. Watchman In 2021, he released the song “Brand New Key,” which many considered a new song due to its childish tone. The singer said it was written as a blues tune, but she sped it up in search of greater commercial appeal.

Melanie did not always have her place in the male-dominated folk rock scene of the time, and was rarely mentioned even in the company of female artists such as Joni Mitchell. She speculated with The Guardian about why that was: “It was not the era of smiling women,” she said. “It had to be more interesting and I was so angelic. Men can be nice. Randy Newman can sing 'Short People,' and that's fine because he's a man, and he has something to say. But a girl? How could it have any social significance?” “

Savka was born in Astoria, New York, on February 3, 1947, and grew up in Queens. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, but it was her interest in performing in folk clubs in Greenwich Village that led to her eventual career path.

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She was virtually unknown when she was flown by helicopter to the Woodstock festival in 1969, before she had received a hit on the radio. In 1989, and again in 2019, as the festival marked its historic anniversary, I wrote about the experience Rolling Stone.

“I had my first out-of-body experience. I was terrified,” she said. “I just left my body and went to the side, where there was a higher view. I watched myself get on stage, sit down and sing a few lines. When I felt it was safe, I went back. It started raining before I could continue. Ravi Shankar had just finished his performance, and the announcer said that if you light candles, it will help keep the rain away. By the time I finished my set, the entire hill was a mass of little flashing lights. I think this is one of the reasons I wanted to get back into my body.

That experience was the basis of “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” a huge hit and perhaps her most popular song today, although “Brand New Key” was more mainstream in its day. Melanie said lighting candles became a trademark of her shows for about a year afterward, and that song “became so associated with my concerts that my shows were banned because the fire departments wouldn't approve of it.”

Her husband, producer and manager Peter Chikrek, died in 2010. She has been collaborating musically with her son Beau Jared and daughters Lila and Jordi in recent years on recordings and concerts.

Melanie achieved her greatest success in the early 1970s with the Buddha label, which she left in 1971 to establish her own label, becoming a pioneer of independent artists. She recently signed with the Los Angeles-based Cleopatra label, which has been in the process of compiling the entire Post-Buddha catalog for reissue.

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In early January, according to her label, Melanie recorded a cover of Morrissey's “Ouija Board Ouija Board” for an upcoming tribute album celebrating his music. (Morrissey was known to be a fan, having covered the song Some Say (I Got Devil)). She also just cut a version of Nine Inch Nails' song “Hurt” for her planned album, “Second Hand.” smoking.”

Other songs she recorded for the new record included Radiohead's “Creep,” the Moody Blues' “Nights In White Satin,” Depeche Mode's “Enjoy The Silence,” and David Bowie's “Everyone Says Hi.”

In their statement on Facebook, the singer's three children said: “We are planning a celebration of life for mom and it will be open to all of you who want to come and celebrate with her. Details will be announced as they become available. We look forward to seeing you there.”

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