Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Phoebe Snow, 1952-2011
Phoebe Snow was not only a big star in the 1970s pop world, with the unforgettable hit "Poetry Man" (written about Jackson Browne, of all people), but she was enormously well-respected, a singer's singer, recording duets with the likes of Linda Ronstadt and Paul Simon. But that is far from the most admirable thing about the life of Phoebe Snow.
In 1975, Phoebe married some schmo, right about the time she began making hits, and they had a daughter named Valerie who was born that December. Valerie was born with severe brain damage, and Phoebe's husband skipped town, as men are wont to do. Phoebe was determined to raise Valerie on her own, and tried for a while to continue her career while doing so. In 1977, she went on a five-week tour, leaving her daughter back home in New Jersey with a young couple.
"When I came home, she was literally starving herself, and I was virtually insane," Phoebe said in 1982. "I said, 'I've been away from my kid for over a month, and I'm not gonna do it again.'"
So Phoebe Snow spent the next several years in an apartment in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, raising a severely disabled child all on her own and trying, in her spare time, to maintain a career. From 1981 to 1989, she didn't record at all, except for commercial jingles.
Valerie died in March 2007, at the age of 31. Phoebe got back to work, cutting a new album and singing at Howard Stern's wedding, before she suffered a stroke in January 2010. For more than a year, she lived mostly in a coma, regaining consciousness only sporadically, before she died this morning. Phoebe Snow was 58.