American folk music singer, songwriter, record producer, and visual artist Bob Neuwirth, who collaborated with artists such as Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin died in Santa Monica on Wednesday night. He was 82.
Neuwirth’s longtime partner, entertainment executive Paula Batson, told Variety that he died from heart failure.
“On Wednesday evening in Santa Monica, Bob Neuwirth’s big heart gave out,” said Batson, in a statement. “He was 82 years old and would have been 83 in June. Bob was an artist throughout every cell of his body and he loved to encourage others to make art themselves. He was a painter, songwriter, producer and recording artist whose body of work is loved and respected.
“For over 60 years, Bob was at the epicenter of cultural moments from Woodstock, to Paris, ‘Don’t Look Back’ to Monterey Pop, ‘Rolling Thunder’ to Nashville and Havana. He was a generous instigator who often produced and made things happen anonymously. The art is what mattered to him, not the credit. He was an artist, a mentor and a supporter to many. He will be missed by all who love him.”
A fixture of the 1960s Massachusetts folk scene, Neuwirth was a longtime friend and associate of Bob Dylan, and helped him put together a touring band for his 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue.
He also introduced Kris Kristofferson to Janis Joplin, presaging Joplin’s recording “Mercedes Benz” which Neuwirth co-wrote with Joplin and Michael McClure.
In the 1980s, Neuwirth recorded a pair of solo albums – Back to the Front and 99 Monkeys – and produced for numberous artists, including T. Bone Burnett, Concrete Blonde, Kris Kristofferson, k.d. lang, and Robert Earl Keen Jr., among others.
He also toured in the U.S. and Europe, sometimes as a solo artist but often with other performers such as Warren Zevon, and John Cale.
Neuwirth went on to partner with Cale in 1994 to release Last Day on Earth, an innovative and experimental album that combines storytelling, spoken word and music.
More recently, Neuwirth participated in Hal Willner Harry Smith Anthology concerts in New York, Los Angeles and London in 2001. He also served as the musical director for the “Down from the Mountain” tour following the success of the Coen Brothers film ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou.’
Neuwirth is survived by Batson and his niece, Cassie Dubicki, and her family.