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Singer-Songwriter Jesse Winchester Dies at Age 69

Image courtesy of Appleseed Recordings (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Appleseed Recordings (via ABC News Radio)

Veteran singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester , whose tunes were recorded by such popular artists as Jimmy Buffett , Jerry Garcia , Patti Page , Elvis Costello , Joan Baez and The Everly Brothers , died Friday after a battle with cancer.  He was 69.

Memphis' Commercial Appeal newspaper reports that Winchester passed away at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to his wife, Cynthia.  Among his best-known songs are "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz," "Mississippi, You're on My Mind" and "Biloxi," although he only had one single that broke into the top 40 of Billboard 's Hot 100 chart, 1981's "Say What," which peaked at #32.

Winchester was born in Louisiana and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, but he spent most of his life in Canada, where he moved in 1967 in protest of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam war.  The Band 's Robbie Robertson produced Jesse's 1970 self-titled debut album, while Todd Rundgren produced the 1972 follow-up, Third Down, 110 to Go .  Winchester eventually was pardoned, along with other Vietnam draft dodgers, in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter .  He moved back to the U.S. in 2002 and settled in Charlottesville.

After 1981, he recorded only sporadically, with his last studio effort, Love Filling Station , arriving in 2009.  That same year, he made one of his last high-profile appearances, on an episode of Costello's Sundance Channel performance series Spectacle .

Winchester was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011.  While he battled the disease, a group of well-known artists, including Costello, Buffett, James Taylor , Little Feat and Vince Gill , recorded covers of his songs for a tribute album titled Quiet About It that was released in 2012.

Winchester initially recovered from the illness, and he went back to touring.  He also recorded a new studio album called A Reasonable Amount of Trouble that's due out later this year.  However, doctors discovered this past February that his cancer had returned and was inoperable.

Jesse was receiving hospice care at his home when he succumbed to the disease.  In addition to his wife, he's survived by his sister and brother, three children, a stepdaughter and five grandchildren.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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