Published Apr 11, 2014Singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester hailed from the U.S. South, but he became known as a Canadian musician after moving to Montreal to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War. Sadly, he passed away today (April 11) following a battle with cancer. He was 69.
Winchester was originally diagnosed with the disease in 2011. At that time, he underwent surgery and continued performing with an apparently clean bill of health. The cancer returned in February of this year, this time in his bladder, and it was inoperable. Winchester spent his final days in hospice care at home in Charlottesville, VA.
His death was confirmed on his Facebook page with the simple message: "Friends, our sweet Jesse died peacefully in his sleep this morning. Bless his loving heart."
Born in Louisiana and raised primarily in Memphis, Winchester left the U.S. in protest when he was drafted in the late '60s. He spent 35 years in Montreal and enjoyed a successful folk music career. His self-titled debut album from 1970 was produced by Robbie Robertson of the Band.
He became a Canadian citizen in 1973, was granted amnesty in the U.S. (along with other anti-war protesters) in 1977, and eventually moved back to his home country for the last decade of his life. He continued to play music, releasing Love Filling Station in 2009. Recently he apparently finished an album called A Reasonable Amount of Trouble, which is expected out later this year.
In 2012, Jimmy Buffett helped to organize the tribute album Quiet About It, featuring Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Little Feat, Roseanne Cash and more.
Winchester is survived by his wife Cindy; siblings Cassius and Ellyn; children James, Alice, and Marcus Lee; stepdaughter Jennifer; and five grandchildren.