December 29th, 2008
09:42 AM ET

Delaney Bramlett, 1939-2008

Delaney Bramlett, who co-wrote songs such as “Superstar” and worked with a who’s-who of rock royalty, died Saturday. He was 69.

According to a Reuters report picked up by The New York Times and other outlets, the guitarist and vocalist died in Los Angeles following gallbladder surgery.

“I held him and he held on up until the last breath with which he went in peace to the light and on into eternity,” his wife, Susan Lanier-Bramlett, said on Bramlett’s Web site, www.delaneybramlett.com.

Bramlett was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, in 1939. After becoming part of the house band for the ABC rock ‘n’ roll show “Shindig” in the mid-‘60s, he met and married Bonnie Lynn O’Farrell, a backup singer for Ike & Tina Turner, in 1967, according to Allmusic.com. The pair formed Delaney & Bonnie, which became Delaney & Bonnie & Friends in 1969.

Bramlett’s biggest success followed. Eric Clapton joined the band for a short time, and Bonnie Bramlett co-wrote Clapton’s hit “Let It Rain” with the guitarist, with Delaney producing and greatly influencing the sound of Clapton’s first solo album.

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends also supported John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band for a short stint, and George Harrison was known to take the stage with the group. A couple of the Friends, Carl Radle and Jim Keltner, joined Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour; Radle later became part of Derek and the Dominos.

Delaney & Bonnie had their own hits in 1970 and ’71, including “Free the People” and “Never Ending Song of Love,” the latter of which hit the Top 20.

Bramlett also co-wrote “Superstar” with his wife and Russell, which became a No. 2 hit for the Carpenters in 1972 and was later covered by Sonic Youth for the “If I Were a Carpenter” compilation. Sonic Youth’s version was featured on the “Juno” soundtrack.

The Bramletts divorced in the early ‘70s. Delaney Bramlett struggled with alcoholism and became a born-again Christian. In recent years, his albums included “Sweet Inspiration” and “A New Kind of Blues.”

– From news reports

(Editor's note: As a commenter has noted, Bonnie Bramlett, not Delaney Bramlett, co-wrote "Let It Rain" with Eric Clapton, according to credits on Clapton's self-titled solo debut. The above story has been changed to reflect that information.)


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