Southern sonic savant found a helluva way to go out.
By Fred Mills
The jamband world —and indeed, most sentient creatures with any affinity for the musical universe — is mourning the death of Col. Bruce Hampton (Ret.) at the age of 70. Hampton was onstage at Atlanta’s Fox Theater last night (May 1) during a live birthday celebration when he apparently dropped to his knees — to some, it appeared to be part of the show — than collapsed while the musicians around him continued to play. Soon, however stage hands rushed out and carried him offstage and an ambulance was called. Hampton reportedly died a short time later. The concert featured Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Blues Traveler singer John Popper, The Wood Brothers’ Oliver Wood, Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, Allman Brothers Band’s Chuck Leavell, Peter Buck, Phish’s Jon Fishman, Warren Haynes and actor Billy Bob Thornton.
The exact cause of death has not yet been announced
According to CNN, Haynes, of Gov’t Mule/Allman Brothers/Dead fame, and a close friend of Hampton’s, was playing with the artist at the time, and he subsequently posted to his Facebook page a brief statement from the Hampton camp:
“After collapsing on stage surrounded by his friends, family, fans and the people he loved, Col. Bruce Hampton has passed away. The family is asking for respect and privacy at this difficult time.”
By this morning, social media was crowded with posts from grieving fans and friends, one of whom posted, appropriately enough, “Godspeed and many thanks to one of the leaders/influencers of the jam band movement, Col. Bruce Hampton. What a way to go out.”
BLURT would like to extended our deepest condolences to Hampton’s family. Speaking personally, I was fortunate enough to see him perform numerous times, frequently with the ARU or the Codetalkers — I never caught him in his early days with the Hampton Grease Band, but their lone LP was a twisted favorite of mine as a teenager — and often as a featured guest at the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam concert in Asheville, NC. Two of my fondest abiding memories is of hanging with him backstage during a couple of the jams, one time watching him getting a hand massage along with Bob Weir while he and I compared notes on concerts we had potentially attended at the same time while growing up in the South, and another standing in a semicircle with others while he held court, telling jokes and talking baseball. He was a funny, funny guy and a supremely talented musician, a guy who commanded love and respect from any musician who came into his wild, spontaneous orbit.