May 2 (UPI) — In the end, Bruce Hampton was doing what he loved most — jamming — when he collapsed and died during an encore at his 70th birthday celebration concert Monday night in Atlanta.
“I’ve dreaded this day for years,” former bandmate Jeff Mosier wrote on Facebook, “but could have never imagined a more joyful departure.”
Hampton, known as the granddaddy of the jam scene, toppled over while jamming during the encore — Bobby Bland’s “Turn on Your Love Light.”
At first, the other performers on stage thought it was another of Hampton’s quirky stunts. Drummer Jeff Sipe said Hampton made eye contact with him and grinned moments before he went down.
Hampton’s death was confirmed in a statement from his family, shared by the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Several rock and jam band luminaries performed at the four-hour show, including Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Popper, Oliver Wood, Dave Schools, Chuck Leavell and guitar prodigy Brandon Niederauer
Born Gustav Berglund III in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1947, he changed his name to Col. Bruce Hampton as an adult and forged a music career that spanned five decades. He started with Frank Zappa the Mothers of Invention and formed the Hampton Grease Band, which toured with The Grateful Dead. They released only one album, “Music to Eat” in 1971, but it became a cult classic.
Hampton earned a reputation as one of the best jam musicians in the industry. He was the subject of a 2012 documentary, “Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton.”
He was mourned by fans and friends.
“I feel so blessed to have been there (Monday night) and be a part of the greatest gathering of friends and loved ones,” Mosier wrote on Facebook. “I’ve never seen Bruce happier. I’ve never been sadder. … I feel so lost.”