Geyer enjoyed solo success in Australia in the ‘70s with covers “It’s a Man’s Man’s World”, “Heading in the Right Direction” and with the bouncy ’80s pop number “Say I Love You,” though never reaped the commercial rewards that her talents deserved.
Later, she would relocate to Los Angeles, where she contributed to recordings for many stars, including Raitt.
“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 Renée Geyer,” writes Raitt on her social pages.
“Her husky, powerful and deeply soulful voice and phrasing has blown me away since I first heard her back in 1980 in LA, while making her So Lucky album,” with Bump Band and producer Rob Fraboni, she writes.
Raitt “was so knocked” out that she tapped Fraboni and the band members oh her own, next album, 1981’s Green Light. The album cracked the top 40, peaking at No. 38 on the Billboard 200.
Geyer possessed an “impossibly low growl, unearthly high swoops but mostly, staggeringly great singing, there was no one like her,” Raitt enthuses. “She was feisty, fiercely independent and faced a lot being a strong woman in this music business. She was also my good friend and will remain an inspiration and in my heart always.”
Geyer cemented her icon status in 2005, when she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame alongside Split Enz, Normie Rowe, Smoky Dawson, The Easybeats, Hunters & Collectors and Jimmy Barnes. Then, in 2013 she was the first woman to be inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame; and in 2018 received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the Australian Women in Music Awards.
While attending University Hospital Geelong to undergo hip surgery, specialists discovered that Geyer also had inoperable lung cancer. She died Tuesday (Jan. 17), “in no pain” and “peacefully amongst family and friends,” reads a family statement.
After the sad news broke, the music community paid tribute to the talented, late artist, including Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett, Colin Hay, Kate Ceberano, Marcia Hines, Sarah McLeod and Troy Cassar-Daley. “The U.S. had Aretha, the U.K. Dusty Springfield. We had Renée. She taught us all so much,” explains Hay, former singer and songwriter with Men at Work. “She knew not only what music was, but where it came from. We had an inkling, but so much of it was so far away.”
Since launching her own recording career in 1971, Raitt has effortlessly melded music and activism, inspiring generations and earning “icon” status — she was bestowed the Icon Award at the 2022 Billboard Women In Music event.
Her 21st and latest album, 2022’s Just Like That, is nominated for four Grammy Awards.