Vic Chesnutt, 45, a singer-songwriter of spare, idiosyncratic folk songs tinged with melancholy, died Christmas Day in Athens, Ga., after an intentional overdose of prescription muscle relaxants, a family spokesman said.

Mr. Chesnutt had been admitted Wednesday to Athens Regional Medical Center and died surrounded by devastated friends and family, said Jem Cohen, a filmmaker and friend who produced his 2007 album, North Star Deserter.

Paralyzed after a 1983 single-car accident when he was driving drunk at age 18, Mr. Chesnutt had limited use of his arms and hands but nonetheless carved out a career as a songwriter, singer, and guitarist. He was discovered in the late 1980s by R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, who championed his early recordings, and he gained the respect of music critics and fellow musicians who were struck by his darkly humorous songs.