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February 18, 2008

Musician, Songwriter Willie P. Bennett Dies

Written by
cindy mcleod

blues news, Canada


Willie P. Bennett
1951 – 2008

Bennett Graced Canadian Music Scene for Over 30 Years

Canadian roots musician and songwriter Willie P. Bennett has died on Friday at his home in Peterborough, Ont. No cause of death has been given, but Bennett suffered a heart attack last year. He was 56 years old.

A leading artist on the Canadian roots & blues and folk scenes, Bennett was widely recognized for his song-writing excellence and as a regular headlining performer at festivals across the nation.

Bennett first gained recognition during the 70’s, building a reputation on the flourishing coffee house scene in Southern Ontario alongside such names as Bruce Cockburn, David Wiffen, David Bradstreet, David Essig, Stan Rogers. He toured as a harmonica player 1974-9 with the Dixie Flyers.

His songs, an emotional mix of country, blues and folk, were later recorded by numerous artists. Bennett’s song White Line was covered by David Wiffen in 1973 and in later years Jonathan Edwards and Pure Prairie League. Bennett also co-wrote the song Goodbye, So Long, Hello with Russell deCarle of Prairie Oyster. The song was named the 1990 Canadian Country Music Association’s Song of the Year.

He made his recording debut in 1975 with the release of Trying to Start Out Clean, followed by the critically acclaimed acoustic albums Hobo’s Taunt (1977 Woodshed) and Blackie and the Rodeo King (1979 Woodshed), projects produced by David Essig and a young Daniel Lanois. In 1993 he released Take My Own Advice (Dark Light Music) and in 1999 won the Juno for Best Roots and Traditional Solo Album, Heartstrings.

Bennett held great respect by his peers, as underscored in the late 90s when the band Blackie and The Rodeo Kings formed to do a tribute album to him and naming the group for one of Bennett’s songs.

In recent years, Bennett toured North America playing mandolin and harmonica for singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith.

for more info visit www.williepbennett.com

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