The Song Remains: Dwight Twilley (1951-2023)

Photo credit: Phil Clarkin

Power Pop original who influenced future generations of musicians.

There has been a sense of shock in the music world with the announcement that Dwight Twilley has departed this life. Dwight Twilley with his friend Phil Seymour formed Oister which morphed into The Dwight Twilley Band and landed a record deal with Shelter Records in Los Angeles in the mid-70s. Success was immediate with their single ‘I’m On Fire’ reaching number 16 on the Hot 100 in 1975. With Big Star in Memphis, they were the first of the new generation of power pop bands who were heavily influenced by the British music of the ’60s and who had a subsequent influence on British new wave acts of the late ’70s and early ‘80s, a fact confirmed by UK producer, author and member of the Kursaal Flyers and The Records on his social media.

Born on June 6th, 1951, in Tulsa it was the music of the Beatles that convinced Dwight Twilley to try his hand at music. The heavy influence of the Beatles’  ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ plus the sound of Memphis’s Sun Records was what led the Dwight Twilley Band to be one of the first proponents of ‘70s power pop. The Dwight Twilley Band broke up in 1978 with Twilley and Seymour both artists pursuing solo careers. Dwight Twilley had another hit in 1984 with ‘Girls’, which featured Tom Petty on vocals. Dwight Twilley’s output was boosted by the advent of digital technology that enabled artists to self-release their music with a steady stream of archival and new music being released in the 21st Century.

Dwight Twilley had stayed true to his home town of Tulsa after his sojourn in Los Angeles and it is fitting that the announcement of his passing was made on Tulsa’s Church Studio social media and was posted by his wife Jan.

“He peacefully departed this world, surrounded by the love of his life, Jan, and close friends. The loss is immeasurable, and our words can’t capture the depth of our grief. Dwight’s musical prowess touched countless lives, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of many. We are profoundly thankful for the enduring musical legacy he has bestowed upon us all.”.

Americana UK was fortunate enough to chat with Dwight Twilley recently around the release of ‘The Best Of Dwight Twilley: The Tulsa Years 1999-2016 Vol 1’, and he shared memories of working with Leon Russell, and hanging out with Tom Petty when they were both at the start of their career. Throughout the interview, Dwight Twilley’s love of music and his wry sense of humour were on constant display and, as such, the interview is a fitting celebration of his whole career and can be read here. He was particularly pleased to be included in Bill Janovitz’s biography of Leon Russell, ‘Leon Russell: The Master of Space and Time’s Journey Through Rock & Roll History’. Dwight Twilley’s wife Jan was around at the start of the interview and it was clear that they worked closely together as a team on maintaining his career, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

About Martin Johnson 408 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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Andrew Riggs

Sad news. RIP.


What sad news! R.I.P. Dwight!!