RIP Vince Welnick, 1951-2006
I had no intention of posting tonight, but I came home this evening to very sad news. Another member of the musical family has left us. Vince Welnick, former keyboardist/vocalist for both The Tubes and The Grateful Dead (each of San Francisco), has passed away. He also collaborated with such notable musicians as Todd Rundgren and Dick Dale during his interesting and eclectic career. At this point the cause of death is unconfirmed, but the media is widely speculating that his death was the result of suicide.
While seminal art-rock band The Tubes had been a modest commercial success, it is with The Dead that I will always identify Welnick. After the untimely death of predecessor Brent Mydland, Vince served as The Dead's final keyboardist from 1990 until Jerry Garcia's passing in August 1995. The band's legendary fanbase embraced Welnick in relatively short order and he embraced them right back. After The Grateful Dead's demise he remained active, spearheading Missing Man Formation and frequently sitting in and recording with other bands associated with The Dead (e.g., Ratdog, Mickey Hart Band, Zero, Merl Saunders, etc.).
Toward the end of his life Vince had continued touring and working with other musicians. He had expressed particular excitement in recent years about working with The Persuasions and their Jerry Lawson on projects related to The Grateful Dead and otherwise. In fact, Welnick had a slate of remaining dates ahead this month at the time of his death. While he does not appear on any Grateful Dead studio albums and was not active in the various recent incarnations of The Dead, his contribution to their legacy will surely be remembered by their loyal fans.
Whatever circumstances led to Welnick's death, it seems an appropriate time to celebrate his life and music. Here are some tracks from his various projects over the course of two decades, a few of which seem appropriate for this occassion:
The Tubes - She's a Beauty [Vince on keyboards; circa 1983]
Vince Welnick and Missing Man Formation - The Wheel [Garcia/Dead cover; live 3-6-1998 @ House of Blues, Chicago]
Vince Welnick and Missing Man Formation - Cosmic Charlie [Grateful Dead cover; live 3-6-1998 @ House of Blues, Chicago]
Vince Welnick - Heaven's Reign [website release; circa 2000]
Jerry Lawson (of The Persuasions) - Home of the Angels [Vince on piano, backup vocals; circa 2004]
An interview with Vince from 2000 can be found here.
Here's to you, Vince. You'll be missed. Notes and thoughts of remembrance can be left at Vince Welnick's official site.