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Blues and Country Musician, Kelly Joe Phelps Dies at 62
Kelly Joe Phelps (Image: YouTube)

Blues and Country Musician, Kelly Joe Phelps Dies at 62

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IOWA (CelebrityAccess) –  Singer/ guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps, whose music traveled across numerous genres (blues, country, and jazz), died Tuesday (May 31). He was 62. His friend, producer, and musician, Steve Dawson, announced the news via social media. “At the request of Kelly Joe’s family, I am passing along the heartbreakingly tragic news of Kelly Joe Phelps passing quietly at home in Iowa.”

“He was not only a creative and original songwriter, but he was also one of the deepest and most soulful improvisers I’ve ever seen or heard,” Dawson added. “His ideas flowed out of him so fluently it was mind-boggling. I saw him go from a lap guitar-wielding bluesman to a hardcore troubadour to an avant-garde improviser to a pretty monstrous flatpicker, banjo frailer, and finally finding some peace and inspiration on bottleneck slide guitar. It was always a wild ride, and he never took the easy path.”

Born in Washington state, his debut album, Lead Me On, was released in 1994 and has endured, earning millions of streams. The songs showed off Phelps’s skillful slide guitar and soulful-sounding voice. He moved to the Rykodisc label for 1997’s Roll Away the Stone and released nine further albums, ending with Brother Sinner and the Whale in 2012. Later in his career, Phelps suffered from a nerve disorder in his right arm.

Among those paying tribute was country star Jason Isbell, who wrote: “His beautiful music was certainly an influence, and he was a kind man and generous with his time.” Folk-pop singer John Smith said Phelps was a “guitarist and shaman who could put a crowd into a trance and leave them wondering what happened. Just a beautiful, magical artist.”

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