Mayor Lonnie Norman gives the Key to Manchester to Del McCoury and Sam Bush at Bonnaroo 2013, photo by Maureen Lauer-Gatta

Manchester, Tenn. – best known as the host city of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – lost its mayor Lonnie Norman on Oct. 12 due to COVID-19.

“It is said that when your work speaks for itself—let it,” read a family statement, following Norman’s death. “Mayor Lonnie Norman’s eight decades on this planet were filled with work that testifies to both his accomplishments and his values.”

Born and raised in the Tennessee city, Noman was elected as mayor of Manchester in 1991, marking the first time a black man ever held the post. He was re-elected in 2012 and took on his third term this past August.

He was a fervent supporter of Bonnaroo since its 2002 inception, often appearing onstage and even bestowing the “Key to the City of Manchester” to Del McCoury and Sam Bush in 2013, Old Crow Medicine Show in 2018 and Brandi Carlile in 2019.

“Early this morning, Manchester Mayor Lonnie Norman passed away after his fight with COVID-19,” read a tweet by Bonnaroo HQ. “Our condolences and thoughts go out to his family, friends, and residents of Manchester, who lost a neighbor and dedicated community leader.”

“COVID-19 is a real and it took our beloved Lonnie Norman from us,” added Norman’s family. “To his fellow public officials, we say please remember your duty to keep the public safe. To our fellow citizens, we say please wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and protect public health and each other.”

Mayor Lonnie Norman offers Old Crow Medicine Show the “Key to the City” at Bonaroo 2018, via @Bonnaroo on FB