Colonel Bruce Hampton, guitarist and the musician who helped to found the jam-band community, died on Monday night in Atlanta after collapsing on stage during the encore (‘Turn On Your Lovelight’) of his own birthday celebration. He had turned 70 years old just the day before.
Towards the end of Hampton 70 — a birthday concert featuring members of Phish, Widespread Panic and Leftover Salmon and many others — he collapsed on stage at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.
Hampton’s death was later confirmed in a statement from his family and Investigator Eric Sliz of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office in Atlanta.
Hampton, born Gustav Berglund III and began his music career in the late ’60s with the Hampton Grease Band, which toured with The Grateful Dead. The band was known for various eccentricities, including opening for a band and playing the main act’s songs!
In the early ’90s, Hampton led the Aquarium Rescue Unit and was credited with helping inspire the improvisational ‘jam band’ acts — including Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews and Phish.
Most recently, Hampton held a weekly residency at the Vista Room in Atlanta.
In Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton, a 2012 documentary on Hampton, actor Billy Bob Thornton, who was at the birthday concert, referred to Hampton as “the eighth wonder of the world.”