Feb. 13, 2020: Buzzy Linhart, Singer-Writer-Musician, Dies

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Buzzy Linhart and Carly Simon, in an undated photo from the early 1970s

Singer-songwriter-musician Buzzy Linhart died Feb. 13, 2020, in Berkeley, Calif., according to various comments on his Facebook page. Linhart, 76, had been in ill health since he suffered a heart attack in 2018. He was closely associated with the Greenwich Village folk-rock scene and co-wrote Bette Midler’s single “(You Got to Have) Friends.”

Linhart’s compositions were also recorded by Carly Simon, among others.

On May 29, 2018, Linhart suffered a “heart attack, seizures, and other complications.” He was subsequently hospitalized, then was moved to a nursing home in Berkeley.

According to a 2018 Facebook post from his son, Linhart had been hospitalized in California after experiencing what was described in the post as a “major seizure event.” At the time, he was in the ICU at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley.

Following his May 2018 health issues, Linhart had hoped to return to the concert stage on July 14 to perform at the Art House Gallery & Culture Center in Berkeley, Calif. Though the event took place, Linhart was not well enough to attend.

Listen to Buzzy Linhart’s own take on “Friends,” from his 1971 album, The Time to Live is Now

William Linhart was born March 3, 1943, in Pittsburgh, Penn. He played several instruments as a youngster and entered the U.S. Navy School of Music at age 18.

After moving to New York City in the early Sixties, he became friends with Sebastian, who went on to form the Lovin’ Spoonful. Linhart became part of the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk music scene. Soon, he was recording on sessions by many prominent singer-songwriters and formed the band The Seventh Sons, while exploring various forms of improvisational music including raga.

Singer Jesse Colin Young learned the song “Let’s Get Together” from Linhart and recorded it with the Youngbloods. It became a top 10 hit. Young posted on Facebook, upon Linhart’s death, “My brother, travel safe and travel home. You will be sorely missed. And I promise you I will keep singing that beautiful song wherever and whenever I can till I can sing no more.”

“Friends,” co-written with longtime friend and fellow musician Mark “Moogy” Klingman, was included on Midler’s hugely successful 1972 debut studio album, The Divine Miss M.

Listen to Midler’s version, when she was 26 years old

Linhart is credited as a session musician on albums by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Richie Havens, Carly Simon, Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys, Tim Hardin, Felix Pappalardi, Stephen Stills, John Sebastian and LaBelle, among others, and released albums under his own name since 1969, including titles for the Philips, Kama Sutra and Atco labels, as well as several self-released albums.

His song, “The Love’s Still Growing,” appears on Carly Simon’s 1971 debut LP.

Related: Musicians we lost in 2020

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6 Comments so far

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  1. captainraff
    #1 captainraff 15 February, 2020, 00:09

    he also appeared in the early ’70’s movie, The Groove Tube

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    • xeno
      xeno 16 February, 2020, 03:52

      Buzzy was also a writer and the music director for The Groove Tube – he got “Move On Up” by Marvin Gaye into a movie for the first time.

      Reply this comment
      • Curtis Ratcliff
        Curtis Ratcliff 20 February, 2020, 14:39

        Xeno, it is with great sadness that I learned of Buzzy’s passing on. I truly enjoyed meeting you and sharing the videos with you and the caregivers that day. Luckily, we can all listen to Buzzy’s voice and remember with great fondness what a zany spirit he was!!

        Reply this comment
  2. Darryl
    #2 Darryl 15 February, 2020, 14:56

    I knew Buzzy had been ill for awhile and the last time I spoke with him he wasn’t in a good place. This really saddens me as we became friends when my group was playing on Bleecker in the late 70’s. He was a character with a lot of talent and heart.

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  3. Litsii
    #3 Litsii 15 February, 2020, 15:39

    September 1973 on a hillside in Pittsburgh… Buzzy Linhart performed with Bruce Springsteen to entertain students at Carnegie Mellon University. What a thrill. Thank you Buzzy (and Bruce!).

    Reply this comment
  4. Da Mick
    #4 Da Mick 14 February, 2021, 11:53

    A friend first brought me to see the amazing Buzzy at the bandshell in NYC’s Central Park, probably around 1970. He was such a different kind of performer, singer, and songwriter — exciting, entertaining, and a total original. Then, and through the years when I saw him again many times, he always had amazing people playing with him in his band, from the vocal group, LaBelle, to Peter Ponzol, the renowned saxophonist, to Skunk Baxter while he still used to work at a music store on W. 48th St.. I saw Buzzy perform at Carnegie Hall opening for Malo. Afterward Buzz was out front of the theater, talking with fans, hugging them, and kissing them. I met and talked with him at many of his NYC area shows — he was always so accessible and friendly. His song were really unique, and while he gained fame mostly for more celebrated singers doing them, it was a treat to hear him sing his own music. and unfortunately that he ultimately struggled with record companies to record his later music. Speaking of Music, that was the name of his former band, before he began makng records on his own. Their incredibly original LP has some of Buzzy’s best songs on it, if you can still find it today, highly recommended pop type stuff that’s actually kind of difficult to categorize, as was all of his music, actually. Lastly, loved hearing Buzzy playing vibes at all his shows, which was a unique treat at a “rock show.” That’s Buzzy playing vibes on Jimi Hendrix’s original studio cut of “Drifting.” Really cool guy, and great musician, in so many ways. Miss you, Buzz.

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