"Poetry Man" singer Phoebe Snow dead at 60
Phoebe Snow died Tuesday morning (4/26) in Edison, NJ, from complications of a brain hemorrhage she suffered in January 2010, according to published reports. The singer, guitarist and songwriter was 60 years old.
Snow, who was born and raised in New Jersey, is best known for her 1975 hit "Poetry Man," from her self-titled debut release. That year, she was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammys, going on to grace the cover of Rolling Stone and achieve gold-record status.
Not long after "Poetry Man" reached the Top 5 on the pop singles chart, Snow's daughter, Valerie Rose, was born with severe brain damage; she wasn't expected to live for more than a couple of years.
Rather than put her in an institution, Snow cared for her at home and essentially put her career on hold. Under her mother's care, Valerie lived to be 31 years old. "She was the only thing that was holding me together," Snow told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008, after her daughter's death. "My life was her, completely about her, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed at night."
Snow's manager Sue Cameron said Phoebe felt being a mother to her brain-damaged daughter was her greatest accomplishment.
The folk guitarist, whose multi-octave range set her apart from her contemporaries, recorded albums after her hit debut, including the 2003 release "Natural Wonder," her first new album of original material in 14 years. However, she never fully returned to the music business while her daughter was alive.
Snow occasionally took the stage, including an appearance at the Woodstock 25th anniversary festival in 1994. She performed as part of a soul act that included Thelma Houston, Mavis Staples and CeCe Peniston.
Steely Dan's Donald Fagen also recruited her to participate in the New York Rock and Soul Revue tour with Charles Brown, Michael McDonald, Boz Scaggs and others. The tour's NYC Beacon Theatre show was recorded for a 1991 live album.
Snow, who played the piano at an early age, once told reporters that when she began playing guitar, she aspired to be a female Jimi Hendrix -- or at least the greatest female guitarist of all time. She reportedly was unable to play a wide range of notes on the guitar, but discovered that she could copy them with her extraordinary vocal range.