On December 29th, 1943 Canadian musician and songwriter Rick Danko was born. He would have turned 72 but passed away all too young just 19 days shy of his 56th birthday on December 10th, 1999 from heart failure related to years of drug and alcohol problems. Danko is best known as a founding member, bassist and vocalist of The Band, a major influence on what would later be called Americana and alt-country. Prior to The Band, its members, including pianist Richard Manuel, organist/reedsman Garth Hudson, guitarist Robbie Robertson, and drummer Levon Helm backed Ronnie Hawkins as The Hawks and Bob Dylan, the latter of whom they cut the now legendary Basement Tapes. The Band were one of the few acts in history that could boast a lineup of equally talented singers and songwriters, but it was Danko’s voice on songs like “Stage Fright” and “It Makes No Difference” that was emotionally poignant and capable of pulling the heartstrings of every listener.
Following The Band’s break-up and all-star final show in 1976, which was documented in Martin Scorsese’s ground-breaking concert documentary The Last Waltz, Rick Danko would embark on a troubled solo career as well as many high profile collaborations. In 1994 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Band.
To celebrate the life of such a musical soul and huge talent, watch a rare video of Rick Danko performing “Sip The Wine” off his debut solo album. The tear-breaking performance was recorded in 1978 for a Chicago TV station.