Renée Geyer’s manager has revealed that Paul Kelly and other musicians visited the late singer in hospital before her death earlier this week and played music for the jazz and soul icon.

Geyer’s manager shared a post on the singer’s Facebook page yesterday (January 18) thanking fans for their messages and tributes along with staff at Geelong Hospital.

“Renée was surrounded by musicians, Yuri Pavlinov, Jex Saarelaht, Charlie Owen, Paul Hambrook and Paul Kelly, who quietly played for Renée in the ICU, and it was magic,” added Geyer’s manager. “Thanks boys…unforgettable.”

Hello friends, Renée’s Manager, Kathy would like to thank you all for your messages and tributes, and especially thank…

Posted by Renee Geyer on Tuesday 17 January 2023

Veteran entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins also told the story while appearing on Today this week. “Just yesterday Paul Kelly and a couple of friends were visiting [Geyer] in hospital in Geelong,” Wilkinson said, adding that they played a few songs, including Geyer’s 1975 hit ‘Heading In The Right Direction’.

Geyer and Kelly had both a long friendship and a professional relationship. Kelly produced Geyer’s ninth studio album, 1994’s ‘Difficult Woman’ and co-produced its 1999 follow-up ‘Sweet Life’ with The Black Sorrows’ Joe Camilleri.

“So long, Renee. What a force! Passionate, difficult and fiercely funny,” Kelly wrote in a tribute to Geyer, which he shared on Instagram after the news of her death. “You taught me much. Wrote songs out of me no one else could. We’ll never see or hear your like again. Angel flights, sing you to your rest.”

Geyer’s death was confirmed on Tuesday (January 17) with a statement from her record label saying she had passed away due to complications from hip surgery. While in the hospital, Geyer was also discovered to have inoperable lung cancer. “She was in no pain and died peacefully surrounded by family and friends,” the statement read.

Geyer released 15 studio albums during her career, the most recent being 2013’s ‘Swing’. She was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2005, and was the first woman inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame in 2013. In In 2018, she received the first Lifetime Achievement Award at the Australian Women in Music Awards.

In addition to her own work, Geyer was also an in-demand session vocalist during the decade she lived in the US, working with the likes of Joe Cocker, Sting, Neil Diamond, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy and many others.

Many of Geyer’s contemporaries paid tribute to the singer after the news of her passing. Camilleri remembered her as “truly one of the best soul singers this country has ever produced”, who “influenced so many who came after her”, while Jimmy Barnes said she had “the power to bring a song to life and a voice full of passion and tenderness”.

“A game changer. A diva of soul. My sister in song,” wrote Marcia Hines in her own tribute. “Heart’s condolences to her family and friends and to the Australian music industry as a whole who have just lost someone who possessed one of The greatest voices I’ve ever heard.”

Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett spoke about playing a benefit show with Geyer years earlier. “Of course she blew the roof off,” Garrett wrote. “One of the very best voices we have ever had the privilege of hearing.”

Raitt also posted a longer tribute. “Shocked and so saddened to hear of the sudden passing of another friend and one of the greatest singers I’ve ever known, Australia’s incomparable Renee Geyer,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Her husky, powerful and deeply soulful voice and phrasing have blown me away since I first heard her,” she continued. “She was feisty, fiercely independent and faced a lot as a strong woman in this music business. She was also my good friend and will remain an inspiration and in my heart always.”

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