News your connection to The Boston Globe

Richard Bell, 61, rock keyboardist

TORONTO -- Keyboardist and songwriter Richard Bell, who played with Janis Joplin, died Friday of multiple myeloma at a Toronto hospital. He was 61.

His work 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, and Bonnie Raitt. In recent years he played with 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. But his cancer returned.

Mr. Bell was the son of esteemed Canadian conductor and educator, Dr. Leslie Bell. A child prodigy, Mr. Bell began playing the piano at age 4 and studied at Canada's Royal Conservatory of Music.