Will Owsley, born in Alabama in 1966, very likely garnered his most public recognition as the guitarist in Amy Grant’s band, but he was far, far more than that. Moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1987, he later formed powerpop band The Semantics, featuring Ringo Starr’s son Zak, and releasing the promising ‘Powerbill’ album. In 1999, he really came into his own though, releasing the first of two magnificent solo albums to huge critical acclaim. His eponymous debut was nominated for a grammy. It would be a further five years before the follow-up – ‘The Hard Way’ – would see the light of day due to legal difficulties, but it was worth the wait. Coming clean about his obvious Beatles influences, it includes a note-perfect cover of McCartney’s ‘Band on the Run’ as a hidden track.
Sadly, his last ever release was a digital only single ‘Psycho/Upside Down in 2005. Owsley died April 30, 2010 at Williamson County Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee was 44. The local paper reported the cause of death as “an apparent” suicide. In my view, Will Owsley was one of the greatest pop writers of the last 50 years, and his untimely death has robbed us of incalculable musical riches. I hope he found his peace. His 2 albums are a wonderful, if painfully thin, legacy, and I treasure them.
This is ‘Matriarch’, from his Second Album ‘The Hard Way’.