Singer-songwriter Buddy Tabor dies at 63

Local singer and songwriter Guy "Buddy" Tabor died Sunday evening in Juneau. He was 63.

Tabor had been receiving treatment for cancer since November. Close friend Betsy Sims said he died peacefully at home, surrounded by friends and family.

Tabor, who made his living as a housepainter, had a highly productive career as a musician, releasing nine albums and writing hundreds of original songs. He was revered by fans and fellow writers, who frequently praised him for the poetry of his lyrics and refusal to sugarcoat the truth. His live appearances included four decades of Alaska Folk Festival performances and shows at Resurrection Lutheran Church, where he was often joined by friends such as Sims and Albert McDonnell. He also performed regularly for inmates at Folsom Prison, and opened for national stars Nancy Griffith, Townes Van Zandt and Iris DeMent.

Some of Tabor’s songs gained national attention, including “Get Up Dogs,” featured on ABC’s Wild World of Sports and other documentaries, and “New Fallen Snow,” covered by Canadian band the Undertakin’ Daddies.

His musical inspirations included Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and John Prine.

Friends and supporters organized a fundraiser for Tabor in November, drawing more than 500 people. Tabor, who performed a few songs at the event, later described it as a hugely uplifting.

“I was moved beyond words,” he said. “It was probably one of the highlights of my life.”

At that time he also spoke of being grateful for the chance to say goodbye to friends and loved ones.

On Saturday, local radio station KRNN hosted a special edition of Mudlark Sampler celebrating Tabor’s life and music, hosted by Chris Trostel. Tabor listened in from home as friends called in to express their affection and dedicate songs to him.

Saturday night, the Glacial Erratics performed a Tabor-inspired concert at Resurrection Lutheran Church. SIms, one of the band members, said the whole crowd joined in singing in Tabor’s honor.

This weekend, Tabor was scheduled to receive a Mayor’s Award for the Arts Lifetime Achievement award during the Wearable Art show at Centennial Hall.

He and his wife, Jeannette, have two sons, Jesse and Joshua.

 

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