Melanie, Singer Best Known for “Brand New Key” Dies at 76

American singer-songwriter Melanie, born Melanie Anne Safka, UK, 18th October 1972
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1970s singer Melanie has passed away, as confirmed by her three children. She was 76 and seemingly died after an unknown illness. Melanie performed at Woodstock in 1969 and was best known for her hit songs “Brand New Key” and “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).”

Her children, Leilah, Jeordie, and Beau Jarred, wrote, in part, “This is the hardest post for us to write, and there are so many things we want to say, first, and there’s no easy way except to say it… Mom passed, peacefully, out of this world and into the next on January, 23rd, 2024. 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.”

They added, “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. We ask tonight, Wednesday January 24th, at 10pm central time, each of you lights a candle in honor of Melanie. Raise, raise them high, high up again. 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.”

They also confirmed that they are planning a Celebration of Life for her and it will be open to fans, so stay tuned for details. Before her death, Melanie, whose full name was Melanie Safka, was working on an album of new songs, which will hopefully be released one day.

American singer-songwriter Melanie, born Melanie Anne Safka, UK, 18th October 1972

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

She performed at Woodstock when she was just 22 years old and once opened up about the horrible anxiety she had before performing at the famous festival. She said, “The terror kept building in me. The thought of me performing in front of all of those people and that huge stage — I was all by myself. Then it started to rain and I truly believed that everyone was going to get up and go home. It’s raining, I’m free, I’ll go back to life as it was. Maybe I will be an archaeologist; maybe I will join the Peace Corps. That’s when they said, ‘You’re next.’”

Musician Melanie attends the Johnny Cash Birthday Celebration 2014 at The Johnny Cash Museum on March 1, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee

Jason Davis/Getty Images

“Lay Down” was her first big hit in the United States and by 1971, Billboard called her the year’s biggest-selling female artist in the U.S. She formed her own label called Neighborhood Records, which became the first female-owned independent record label in rock music history. Perhaps her biggest song, “Brand New Key” was the first single under her own label. In addition to working on music and being with her family, she was a spokesperson for UNICEF. She was married to record producer Peter Schekeryk from 1968 until his death in 2010.

May she rest in peace.

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May 2019

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