Melanie, Woodstock Performer and “Brand New Key” Singer, Dead at 76

Singer-songwriter Melanie, best known for performing at Woodstock and her No. 1 hit “Brand New Key,” has died at 76 years old.

Melanie’s children — Leilah, Jeordie and Beau Jarred — announced the news on Wednesday with a post on her official Facebook page. The cause of death is currently unknown.

“Mom passed, peacefully, out of this world and into the next on January, 23rd, 2024,” reads the statement. “We are heartbroken, but 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 so much! She was one of the most talented, strong and passionate women of the era and every word she wrote, every note she sang reflected that. Our world is much dimmer, the colors of a dreary, rainy Tennessee pale with her absence today, but we know that she is still here, smiling down on all of us, on all of you, from the stars.”

Her children continued by requesting fans honor Melanie by lighting a candle at 10:00 p.m. CT tonight (January 24th) to “illuminate the darkness, and let us all be connected in remembrance of the extraordinary woman who was wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend to so very many people.”

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Born Melanie Safka in Queens, New York, Melanie cut her teeth at folk clubs like The Bitter End in Greenwich Village during the mid-1960s. After initially signing with Columbia Records, she moved on to Buddah Records and found chart success in Europe. In 1969, she scored a No. 1 single in France with “Bobo’s Party” and landed another hit in the Netherlands with “Beautiful People.”


Still, Melanie was an unknown artist when she performed at Woodstock at the age of 22 as one of only three solo women at the festival. The “out-of-body experience” inspired Melanie’s breakthrough hit in the United States, 1970’s “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Melanie would follow up with other hits like “Peace Will Come (According to Plan)” and a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” before forming her own label, Neighborhood Records, in 1971. Her first single for Neighborhood, “Brand New Key,” was a massive success. It peaked at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and in several countries around the world, becoming her signature hit.

According to Variety, Melanie recently signed with the label Cleopatra and had begun preparing to reissue the majority of her catalog. As recently as this month, she had been working on her 32nd album, a covers LP called Second Hand Smoke. Thus far, Melanie had recorded versions of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” Radiohead’s “Creep,” the Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin,” Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” and David Bowie’s “Everyone Says Hi.”


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