Buddy Cage

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Buddy Cage
Born(1946-02-18)February 18, 1946
Toronto, Ontario, Canada[1]
Died (aged 73)
GenresCountry rock
Instrument(s)Pedal steel guitar
Years active1960s–2020

Buddy Cage (February 18, 1946 – February 5, 2020) was an American[2] pedal steel guitarist, best known as a longtime member of the New Riders of the Purple Sage.[3][4][5][6]

Popular both as a performer and session musician, he played with many bands and recording artists, including Anne Murray, Bob Dylan, Brewer & Shipley, David Bromberg, and the Zen Tricksters.[7]

Musical career[edit]

Buddy Cage learned to play pedal steel guitar at a young age. By the mid-1960s he was working as a professional musician, both onstage and as a session player for the Arc Records label.[8][9] When the folk music duo of Ian and Sylvia decided to go electric in 1969, he joined their band, known as the Great Speckled Bird.[10] Great Speckled Bird was part of the Festival Express concert tour in 1970.[11][12] From 1969 to 1972, Cage also recorded four albums with Anne Murray, and one album with Brewer & Shipley.

It was on the Festival Express tour that the New Riders of the Purple Sage became acquainted with Cage. The New Riders were a psychedelic influenced country rock band that had been founded by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, along with John Dawson and David Nelson. The New Riders and the Dead would perform concerts together, with Garcia playing pedal steel for the New Riders, then playing electric guitar and singing with the Dead.

After the Festival Express Tour, Cage left Great Speckled Bird and joined the group Hog Heaven, who had for years backed singer Tommy James as the Shondells. (He co-wrote one song on the group's album for Roulette Records.) Near the end of 1971, Jerry Garcia left the New Riders, enabling them to headline their own concert tours. Cage was invited to join the band as Garcia's replacement.[8][10][13][14]

Cage was the New Riders' pedal steel guitar player from 1971 to 1982, except for a period of about a year in the late 1970s. The New Riders were quite popular. They toured extensively, and released a number of albums. During this same period Cage continued working as a session musician, recording with various musical artists, including David Bromberg and Robert Hunter. In 1974, Bob Dylan asked him to play on recording sessions for the album Blood on the Tracks.[15][16]

In the years after Cage's departure from the New Riders, he continued working with many different bands and musicians, including Solar Circus, Stir Fried,[17] The Brooklyn Cowboys, the Zen Tricksters, Mike Gordon, Midnight Rain and Bone Alley.

The New Riders of the Purple Sage, led by John Dawson, but without Buddy Cage or David Nelson, had continued touring and recording albums from 1982 until Dawson's retirement from the music business in 1997. In 2005, Cage and Nelson re-formed the New Riders of the Purple Sage.[18][19] The impetus came from sessions Cage did with Stir Fried. [20] [21] They released three albums — Wanted: Live at Turkey Trot, Where I Come From,[22] and 17 Pine Avenue. Cage also worked as a session musician with other artists, including collaborations with Boris Garcia, George Hamilton IV, and Richard Buckner.

In 2005 Cage participated in the three-date "Steelin' and Slidin' Festival" in the Netherlands with Derek Trucks, Sonny Landreth, Dan Tyack, Johan Jansen and Rene van Barneveld.[23]

Cage died from multiple myeloma at the age of 73 on February 5, 2020.[6][24]



  1. ^ Gray, Michael (31 May 2006). The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. Continuum. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-8264-6933-5.
  2. ^ Cage, Buddy (May 24, 2011). "Wiki feud". Road Cage. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  3. ^ Bashe, Patricia Romanowski; George-Warren, Holly; Pareles, Jon (1995). The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia Of Rock & Roll. Fireside. p. 708. ISBN 0-684-81044-1.
  4. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2002). The Great Rock Discography. Canongate. ISBN 1-84195-312-1.
  5. ^ New Riders of the Purple Sage Biography Archived December 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine at New Musical Express
  6. ^ a b Whiting, Sam (February 7, 2020). "Buddy Cage, Pedal Steel Guitar Player for New Riders of the Purple Sage, Dies at 73". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  7. ^ Buddy Cage at AllMusic
  8. ^ a b Bossert, Robbie. Buddy Cage Interview at The Cool Groove
  9. ^ Liner notes for Hard Times – Mickey McGivern & the Mustangs Featuring Billy Adams (Arc #766), 1967. "Buddy Cage at a tender age of 21 is considered one of North America's No.1 steel, lead guitarists. Buddy, a Torontonian, demonstrates why on this recording."
  10. ^ a b Hanegraaf, Hans. Buddy Cage Interview at American Music Belgium, March 23, 2002
  11. ^ Buddy Cage Interview Archived 2008-10-07 at the Wayback Machine at IGN Music, July 22, 2004
  12. ^ Buddy Cage at IMDb
  13. ^ Jackson, Blair (1999). Garcia: An American Life. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 224–225. ISBN 0-14-029199-7.
  14. ^ McNally, Dennis (2002). A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. New York: Broadway Books. p. 413. ISBN 0-7679-1186-5.
  15. ^ Gill, Andy; Odegard, Kevin (2005). A Simple Twist of Fate: Bob Dylan and the Making of Blood on the Tracks. Da Capo Press. pp. 186–187. ISBN 0-306-81413-7.
  16. ^ Ramone, Phil (2007). Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music. Hyperion. pp. 156–158. ISBN 978-0-7868-6859-9.
  17. ^ Budnick, Dean (1998). Jam Bands: North America's Hottest Live Groups. ECW Press. p. 238. ISBN 1-55022-353-4.
  18. ^ Greenhaus, Mike. "Buddy Cage and the New Riders Ride Again" Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine, jambands.com, June 23, 2006
  19. ^ Dembinsky, Ryan (June 12, 2009). "Interview: Buddy Cage of the New Riders", Glide Magazine. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  20. ^ Greenhaus, Mike https://jambands.com/features/2006/06/23/buddy-cage-and-the-new-riders-ride-again/ Jambands.com
  21. ^ Robbins, Brian. "Buddy Cage: Still Steeling Away" Archived 2009-05-31 at the Wayback Machine, Jambands.com, April 26, 2009
  22. ^ Buddy Cage Interview Archived 2010-06-12 at the Wayback Machine at The Best of Website
  23. ^ "Steelin' & Slidin' with Derek Trucks & the Derek Trucks Band, Dan Tyack, Sonny Landreth, Buddy Cage, Johan Jansen, and René van Barneveld". Effenaar (in Dutch). Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  24. ^ May, Jake (February 5, 2020). "In Memoriam: Buddy Cage (1946-2020)". Relix. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  25. ^ "The Crybabies — Stroller".

External links[edit]