Lead Guitarist Passed Away

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Lesgo, Feb 19, 2018.

  1. Lesgo

    Lesgo Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    Hey All,

    I've been working on an EP/LP with a 4-piece rock band for about a year. We finally got to the point of booking gigs, and we have three on the calendar for next month.

    I get a call Friday that our lead guitar player had a medical event and passed away. Totally unexpected. He was not an old man, and he seemed healthy.

    We don't know what to do. We were jamming as a 3 piece before he joined, but when he joined a year ago everything came together and solidified. We still got together for practice yesterday, because my surviving guitarist, drummer, and I have a Beatles cover gig at a fundraiser in a few weeks that we had committed to separately.

    The three of us are pretty deep into the mourning process. I want to double down and make the March dates work. My drummer wants to cancel. Our other guitarist wants to keep the dates, but he doesn't want to push anybody into doing anything. We agreed to get back together on Sunday to go over the cover set again and make the call about canceling the "original" gigs.

    I haven't been in a regular gigging band in years, and I was ready to get back out there. This was also the best collaborative songwriting environment I've ever been in, and my friend who passed was a big part of it.

    I started trolling craigslist for bass sideman gigs, because I feel like I really need to get out there and play. I love this band we put together, and I love the songs we've written. I just don't know what to do about it.

    We decided to at least polish up the last demo we did and maybe press it into an EP for posterity/mourning purposes. And because I think it's frickin good.

    Has anybody else had a similar experience? I know everyone will deal with this differently, but I am just wondering what others have done. I love this group, I love our work product, I was excited about gigging.

    I may just try to join up with another project and give the other guys some time to work through it themselves.
  2. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    I'd give it at least a few more days before deciding anything at all.
    A death hits different people different ways, especially one that's so sudden and unexpected.
    It's pretty hard to make rational decisions at a time you're all still grieving.
    Even if you do decide to cancel a couple of gigs in the immediate future, there's no reason to abandon the whole project, is there?
    Robert B, The Rage, jamro217 and 11 others like this.
  3. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    My condolences.
    I'm sure it is a difficult time with a great deal of uncertainty but I would imagine that your departed friend would want your band to keep moving forward and keep the music alive and his memory through it.

    Good luck to you.
  4. Lesgo

    Lesgo Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    That’s going to be my approach. We’ll all have better perspective with a little time. Thanks.
  5. Lesgo

    Lesgo Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    Thanks for the kind words. I think he would want us to keep at it, but we are 3 independent minds who are all grieving in our own way. It was really tough to try to get through our songs without him on Sunday.

    That said — if I go unexpectedly, I want all my friends to use that as a reason to play more, not less.
  6. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    My condolences to you & the rest of the band.

    IMO, getting the demo pressed up as a memorial to your guitarist is a great idea, and especially if you have a dedication to him in there.

    Maybe you should all wait a little while before cancelling any gigs, but at least inform the promoters of the situation, and tell them that you haven't decided whether to play the gig or not (obviously a little early for those decisions).

    I'd agree with you, that it's a good reason to go out and play, especially the songs from the demo/EP, but I can understand the reluctance.
    jamro217 and Lesgo like this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    You have a relationship and commitment to the others that goes beyond a cover band, and a project in the works. Nothing wrong with looking, but don't pull the trigger until the three of you have had the chance to meet over a pot of coffee or mug of beer and talk.
    jamro217, JRA and Lesgo like this.
  8. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    sorry you've lost your friend. hope you can remember the good times and enjoy the music you made.

    I would just echo what's been said about taking it slow – you won't be making decisions rationally for a little while, even if it feels like it. I would suggest cancelling the March gigs for now – it's a nice idea to do them and keep the band alive, but it will also necessitate rushing to cover his absence, which i don't think would be good.

    the songs and the recordings will still be there, and you can continue the band if you want to, of course - but it will just give everyone a bit of time to gather their thoughts and take in the loss.

    I'm writing this having gone through something similar.
    jamro217 and Lesgo like this.
  9. Lesgo

    Lesgo Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    It's an odd feeling, isn't it. I feel like I'm in full control of my thoughts and able to plan ahead here, but I know I'm not. Thanks for your help.
    jamro217, knumbskull, Engle and 2 others like this.
  10. Lesgo

    Lesgo Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    Thanks for the well-wishes and advice, everybody. My wife said I haven't been this sad since my dog died. That is a high compliment to my friend.

    I'm going to focus on the Beatles gig for now, and not try to make any quick decisions. You-all have been very helpful. Thank you.
    jamro217 and knumbskull like this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Man, that's tough.

    Who (other tham you guys as good friends) did he leave behind?

    Maybe if he left children of a spouse you cam do a fund raiser for them (if there's a need). Maybe all proceeds from the sale of the demo could go to them. Maybe you could turn the March show(s) into that as well. Seems better than a funeral anyway.

    Maybe even whip up a T-shirt. If his name is John maybe "One more time for John" kinda thing.

    I'm just spittballing with you.

    Hope you guys bounce back soon.
  12. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    I say go the distance and finish the production with the demo material, then send it to a mastering house. You'll have that memory in the best sonic condition and probably value it for a long time.
  13. Lesgo

    Lesgo Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    I'm actually good friends/coworkers with his long time girlfriend. She's the one who connected us. She asked us to play the after-party for his memorial service, so we're planning to do something like this. If we keep the March gigs, we'll probably donate the proceeds in his name. But the March gigs are looking less and less likely.
  14. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Sussex WI
    I am very sorry for your loss.
    That said
    The only comment I have about going forward is
    If your band indeed goes forward as a trio you must remember this rule
    When you step out on stage and the lights come on you must put a smile on your face and give everything you have because the people that hired you and the ones there to hear you don’t care about what happened in your personal life.
    If you can do that I say play the gigs
    If you can’t (and that is not a bad thing as we all mourn differently)
    The the right thing to do is cancel what was book as a 4 piece.
    Again my condolences at the loss of your friend.
    Max Blasto and jamro217 like this.
  15. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and compatriot. ;)

    sure. several times. but i'm at an age where it's likely to happen more and more just as a natural occurrence. i lost my best friend (and world-class jazz drummer) over a decade ago and i'm still grieving some. it was a giant 'body blow' for me. i think about him daily. (we played together for 25 years!)

    but i think it's smart to keep on keepin' on --- music as its own reward of course, but also music as therapy.

    good luck on the decisions you have to make with your bandmates! :thumbsup:
    jamro217, Lesgo and Son of Wobble like this.
  16. Wesley R

    Wesley R Gold Supporting Member

    My condolences.
    jamro217, Lesgo and Son of Wobble like this.
  17. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    Lesgo and JRA like this.
  18. Sorry for your loss.

    Led Zeppelin quit; the Who kept going. It just depends on what's right for you.

    There is probably no good answer that will make everything okay again because that's not how tragedies work.

    Much love.
    GCPENG, jamro217 and JRA like this.
  19. Sorry about your loss.
    I would probably play. It’s helped me through some hard times. But do what feels right for you.
    Be prepared for emotions to hit you, and if you cry that’s ok. Eat healthy & keep hydrated!
    jamro217 likes this.
  20. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    Sorry for your loss. There are several options. I would try to turn a negative into a positive. Either do the gigs as a three piece, see if you have a friend who can fill in, or find another guitarist. I would make a huge event out of the gigs as a tribute to your late guitarist.

    Another option is call one or all of the venues, explain what happened and see if you can work with them to have multiple bands perform on the same night as you to raise money as a benefit to the guitarist's family.

    Last resort, cancel the gigs.
    AztecViking, jamro217 and knumbskull like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 27, 2022

Share This Page