Col. BBruce Hampton was onstage performing an encore Monday, May 1, at his birthday concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta when he collapsed and died soon after. He was surrounded by members of Wtdesprea Panic, Phish, REM and other musicians and friends when he fell to the stage .He died shortly after being rushed to Emory Hospital. The beloved jam band musician was 70 years old.
Col. Bruce was deeply loved and respected on the Atlanta music scene, where recently he had been performing weekly at The Vista at Napoleon’s in Decatur. I was privileged to see Cool. Bruce several times, once in the early ’70s, again in the ’90s and in recent years as well. He was an excellent showman as well as a great musician and bandleader.
Hampton was born Gustav Berglund III. He began his career in the late ’60s with the Hampton Grease Band, which toured with The Grateful Dead. Later, he formed The Aquarium Rescue Unit, credited with influencing many of the bands and musicians represented on stage with him at the concert and so many more.
A statement from his family reads: “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.”
While one imagines Col. Bruce would appreciate the logic and poetry of such a death, it is always too soon to loose one of our musical patriarchs. May your rest be sweet, Col.