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Musician Richard Bell Dead At 61

Keyboardist and songwriter Richard Bell, who played with Janis Joplin, has died of cancer. He was 61.

Bell died on June 15 after a long battle with multiple myeloma at a hospital in Toronto, his promotions company in Nashville, Tenn., said.

His resume stretched over 40 years, and included stints with some of rock 'n' roll's most legendary performers, including Joplin and The Band.

He began playing with Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band in 1970 and appeared on Pearl, her posthumously released album. He later joined The Band as a keyboardist and played on their albums "Jericho," "High on the Hog" and "Jubilation."

As a studio musician he played with artists such as Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joe Walsh, Paul Butterfield, The Cowboy Junkies, Bruce Cockburn and Bonnie Raitt. In recent years he has been part of the Toronto jazz/blues group Pork Bellies Futures.

After being diagnosed about a year ago with cancer, he had rigorous treatment and, despite a very poor prognosis, was well enough this spring to work in studio in Nashville on a comeback album with The Flying Burrito Brothers. A few weeks ago the cancer reared up again and he returned to Toronto.

Born March 5, 1946, in Toronto, Bell was the son of esteemed Canadian conductor, musician and educator, Dr. Leslie Bell. A child prodigy, Bell began playing the piano at the age of four, and studied at Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music.

He is survived by his mother, his sister and his nieces and nephews.

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