Memorial tribute set March 3 for musician Swain Schaefer

By Published: March 01, 2019 11:20 PM CT

Swain Schaefer, who began his music career in 1960s Memphis garage-rock bands and played organ for a short time for the Box Tops, died at his Nashville home Feb. 16. 

Schaefer's cause of death was a heart attack, according to his family. He was 70 years old. 

Adept on keyboards and bass, Schaefer co-wrote the song "Happy Holidays" on Alabama's double platinum 1985 "Christmas" album. 

Among the Memphis and Nashville musicians Schaefer worked with over the years were Delbert McClinton, Ronnie Millsap, Don Nix and Sid Selvidge. He collaborated with Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, Jimmy Griffin and John Paul David, and performed with Tony Joe White, Levon Helm, The Pointer Sisters, and with Ed Bruce on Austin City Limits. He was a member of the bands Wind Mill and Brother Love.

 Jimmy Crosthwait, a bandmate and surviving member of Mudboy and the Neutrons, created marionette shows at Memphis' Pink Palace Museum with Schaefer's help. "Swain and I worked together recording the music and narration of several productions that I performed through many of those years," Crosthwait said. "He did so without monetary compensation, and for very little recognition."  

The son of Virginia and Milton Schaefer, owners of Central Woodwork in Memphis, Schaefer took his first piano lessons from Memphis composer and music store owner Berl Olswanger.

 A musical tribute for Schaefer, hosted by Memphis musicians Crosthwait and Jimmy Newman, will be held from 3-7 p.m. March 3 at Huey's Midtown, 1927 Madison Ave.    


Swain Schaefer Jimmy Crosthwait

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