Saturday, June 03, 2006

Vince Passes Away

From Mercury News:

Grateful Dead keyboard player Vince Welnick dies
By Sara Wykes
Mercury News

Vince Welnick, 55, who played keyboards with the Grateful Dead for five years before the death of band founder Jerry Garcia, died Friday.

Sonoma County sheriffs said he was taken, injured, from his home in rural Forestville near Santa Rosa, to a local hospital.

He died there, police said.

An unofficial spokesman at the Welnick home said, ``It looks like he took his own life.'' But that is not known for sure, he said. ``The family is very grieved, and trying to figure it all out.''

Welnick arrived in San Francisco in 1971 from his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., already a keyboardist with a group called the Beans. The Beans became the Tubes and in 1983 their song ``She's a Beauty'' was a hit.

Welnick played with Todd Rundgren after the Tubes broke up, and in 1990, was invited to try out for the Dead.

Welnick told an interviewer with the Vermont Review that the tryout was exciting. Before he played, the band sent him tapes and CDs, but he didn't have a CD player. He practiced in the hayloft of his barn and then waited for two weeks before he heard he was in.

``That fact that I screamed a lot as a child paid off and got me into the Grateful Dead,'' he told the paper. At his first concert with the band, a sound man jumped on his piano seat to test his microphone and broke the seat into 100 hundred pieces, Welnick said.

``I was somewhat paralyzed playing at first. I remember . . . thinking to myself: `Come on fingers, let's get unstuck. Let's get loose here.' Then I heard this ripple in the audience and there was a kid who yelled, `Welcome Brother Vince!' and there were stickers that said, `Yo Vinnie' stuck to the side of my keyboard. The crowd was very forgiving.''

He told the interviewer that he'd never seen the likes of such music, friendship and spirit and did not know if he ever would again.

As a member of the Dead, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He was scheduled to play the House of Blues in Chicago later this month, according to a Web site devoted to his career.

From BBC:

Grateful Dead musician dies at 55

Grateful Dead keyboard player Vince Welnick has died at the age of 55, a statement on his website announced.

Welnick took over as the cult band's keyboard player in 1990.

"Vince passed from this earth on 2 June 2006... after a decade of battling tragedy while creating beauty and light around him," the website said.

The band formed in the 1960s and were famed for their live shows. They largely retired from performing after founder Jerry Garcia died in 1995.

No cause of death was given on Welnick's website.

Welnick formed his own group, Missing Man Formation, after the Grateful Dead broke up in 2003. He did not take part in any reunions of surviving Grateful Dead members.

Psychedelic rock
"His service to and love for the Grateful Dead were heartfelt and essential. He had a loving soul and a joy in music that we were lucky to share," his band said in a statement.

Welnick is the fourth keyboard player from the Grateful Dead to have died - founding vocalist and keyboard player Ron McKernan died in 1973 of a gastrointestinal haemorrhage, Keith Godchaux died in a car accident in 1980 and Brent Mydland died in 1990 of a drug overdose.

The Grateful Dead epitomised the 1960s California hippy scene - their followers have long nicknamed them The Dead, and are themselves known as Deadheads.

The Grateful Dead had one of the most dedicated followings of the psychedelic rock scene built up around their music and live shows.

Despite their massive live following they notched up only one top 10 hit in the US with Touch of Grey in 1987.


Anonymous Helen said...

How very sad this is. Thank you for posting it. I am.......deeply saddened.f

Saturday, June 03, 2006  
Blogger Mark said...

Sad - The fourth tragic keyboardist death, and fifth for the band.

Saturday, June 03, 2006  

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