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Richard Manuel, 42, Performer With The Band, Hangs Himself

March 06, 1986

Richard Manuel, singer, composer and pianist for The Band, hanged himself in a motel bathroom hours after performing with the rock group at a lounge in Orlando, Fla., police said Wednesday.

Manuel, 42, was found by his wife, Arlie, in a bathroom at the Quality Inn Motel about noon Tuesday, police spokesman Rick Nuss said.

Police considered Manuel's death a suicide but Nuss said he apparently left no note and had no obvious motive.

Other members of The Band were fellow Canadians Jamie (Robbie) Robertson, who wrote most of the material, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Arkansas native Levon Helm. They were considered the best backup band Bob Dylan ever had and with him they made the album "The Basement Tapes" while using some of his songs on "Music From Big Pink." Earlier they had backed up Ronnie Hawkins.

Began in Toronto

The group began in Toronto in the late 1950s and was known then as the Crackers and the Canadian Squires. They disbanded in 1976, making record and film versions of their final concert, "The Last Waltz."

A testament to the group's popularity was that on Nov. 26, 1976, in what was billed as The Band's "farewell performance" such entertainment giants as Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond and Dylan joined them on the Winterland stage in San Francisco.

Among The Band's other albums were "Rock of Ages" in 1972, "Moondog Matinee" in 1973 and "Northern Lights--Southern Cross" in 1975. Popular singles were "The Weight," "Up on Cripple Creek," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Rag Mama Rag."

Back Together in '83

The Band had gotten back together in 1983 with guitarist Jimmy Wieder replacing Robertson, who said "I think it's probably a business decision, not an artistic one."

In the interim Manuel had recorded with Bonnie Raitt and Tom Petty.

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