On March 3, 1986, THE BAND played a concert at the Cheek to Cheek Lounge outside…

Written by on March 4, 2018

On March 3, 1986, THE BAND played a concert at the Cheek to Cheek Lounge outside Orlando, in Winter Park, Florida. While on stage, Richard Manuel, appeared to be in relatively good spirits but ominously thanked Garth Hudson for “twenty-five years of incredible music”.

After the show, The Band returned to the Quality Inn, down the block from the Cheek to Cheek Lounge, and Richard went to Levon Helm’s room and they talked about music and film. According to Helm, at around 2:30 in the morning (March 4) Manuel said he needed to get something from his room. Upon returning to his motel room, it is believed that he finished one last bottle of Grand Marnier and then hung himself. Manuel’s wife Arlie—also intoxicated at the time—discovered his body along with the depleted bottle and a small amount of cocaine the following morning.

As would be expected, everyone had a hard time understanding why he did it. Rick Danko said: “I can’t believe in a million years that he meant for that to happen. There was just no sign (…) I have to think this was just a goddamned silly accident.” A blood toxicology report indicated that Manuel was drunk and had ingested cocaine the day he died.

RIP Richard. It happened 32 years ago today. Some things will never be understood.

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