Legendary “granddaddy of the jam scene”, Bruce Hampton, collapsed on stage during a concert held in in honor of his 70th birthday in Atlanta. Held at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, the four-hour show was billed as “Hampton 70: A Celebration of Col. Bruce Hampton” and included performances by Dave Schools of Widespread Panic, Phish drummer Jon Fishman and Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell.
Hampton was onstage performing with 14-year-old guitarist Brandon “Taz” Niederauer when he became distressed, initially taking a knee, then laying down. Initially, those on stage continued to perform and the unsure if the guitarist’s actions were a part of the show until he was assisted off stage and was given medical attention from EMT’s who arrived shortly after. After being rushed to a nearby hospital Hampton passed away.
His agent, Micah Davidson of Midwood Entertainment, confirmed to CNN that the Hampton had passed but gave the publication no further details.
Warren Haynes, the Allman Brothers Band guitarist posted a statement Tuesday on his official Facebook page asking for privacy for Hampton’s loved ones.
Hampton called himself “colonel” for years before officially adding the abbreviated title to his name in 2000 and in a 2015 interview given to the site, Live For Live Music, in preparation for his reunion tour; Hampton spoke of the different paths his career had taken over the years. From playing in bands in the 1970s to doing voice-over work in commercials for brands such as Popeyes fried chicken and Motel 6, Hampton said of his career:
“I was a lasso instructor and a lariat importer, and they were all weird, fleeting jobs,” he told the site. “I’ve been fortunate to do music all my life, and I’ve done enough acting to make it fun.”
Hampton will be remembered as a beloved musician and the founding member of the rock blues quintet the Hampton Grease Band which despite releasing only one album, “Music to Eat” in 1971, developed a bit of a cult following. According to the New York Times the band was “Eclectic” drawing from various sources and left music critics unsure of where to fit the band on the music spectrum. Also known for their performances as opening acts in support of bands such as the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band as The Hampton Grease Band had a mischivous side that was shown when opening a show for a popular pop-rock band by solely playing repeated covers of their hits before the band took the stage.
Mr. Hampton’s survivors include his wife, Sara, and his brother, Jim. In a message posted on Facebook, one of Hampton’s nephews said his uncle was also a doting relative. “He taught me how to be weird,” James Hampton wrote in the message, “and how weird was good.”
“Bruce was the only person I could think of who has ever played at his own funeral, because in essence, that’s what he did. Bruce couldn’t script it any better.”-Scott McKinney