Acclaimed blues pianist and Lexington-native David Maxwell passed away on Friday after an eight-year battle against advanced prostate cancer. He was 71.
Maxwell’s decades-long resume testifies to his enduring contributions: he earned accolades playing alongside legendary names — Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Otis Spann being just a few of them — before emerging as his own band leader in the ‘90s. His 1997 debut Maximum Blues Piano featured a strong Boston presence via guests Ronnie Earl, Duke Levine and Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff. In recent years, Maxwell picked up back-to-back Blues Music Award (BMA) for Acoustic Album of the Year in 2011 and 2012, first for You Got to Move and subsequently for Conversations in Blue, a collaboration with Spann. He was recently nominated for yet another BMA, this time the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year award.
There will be a private Shiva gathering for family and close friends at the Lily Pad in Cambridge later this month. A larger memorial service celebrating David’s life will be held in the Spring.
DigBoston would like to extend our condolences to the Maxwell family.
Full obituary below, courtesy of the deceased’s family.
“Maxwell, David of Concord, MA , 71, renowned and award winning pianist, composer and producer, died Friday, February 13, 2015. His family honored David’s request for privacy during his 8-year valiant effort to battle advanced prostate cancer.
David has been acknowledged as one of the finest blues pianists in his lifetime for the many different styles of blues, boogie-woogie, jazz, world and improvised music that he played with some of the greatest and well-known musicians including Muddy Waters, Bonnie Raitt, Skip James, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Freddie King, Hubert Sumlin, Louisiana Red, and Levon Helm, to name just a few . He has received countless accolades from artists, critics, fans, the press and media.
He has often been compared to Otis Spann, the great blues pianist for Muddy Waters, whom he first met in his hometown of Boston in the 1960’s and who changed the course of his musical direction. David’s “Conversations in Blue: David Maxwell / Otis Spann” CD won the 2012 Acoustic Album of the Year Blues Music Award (BMA) from the Blues Foundation. His latest CD, “”Blues in Other Colors” received wide-spread acclaim for his fusing of traditional blues, using non-western instruments, with music from other countries. More details can be found on his website at www.davidmaxwell.com .
Born in Waltham in 1943, he grew up in Lexington, MA. He started studying classical piano at age nine and later attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
David is survived by his wife, Martha Coughlan of Concord, MA, his sister Judy Maxwell of New York City, his sister Tania Maxwell and her husband Chris Osborne of Cambridge, MA, and his niece Annabelle Winne and her husband David Rigo and their sons Noah and Ben of Missoula, MT.
In lieu of flowers, please become a member of the Blues Foundation and vote before March 1st for David to win the W.C. Handy 2015 Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year Blues Music Award, for which he has been nominated numerous times. Please go to www.blues.org/membership/
Donations can also be made to the Pinetop Perkins Foundation to provide encouragement and support for youth and young people at the beginning of their musical career; and help provide care and safety for elderly musicians at the twilight of their career. [email protected]“