The music world mourns the loss of Van Conner, co-founder and bassist of the alternative rock band Screaming Trees, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 55. The sad news was announced by his brother and bandmate, Gary Lee Conner, on social media.
Keep reading the article to know more about Van Conners’ family, friends, career, and cause of death.
Who was Van Conner? Read more about him
Van Conner was one of the founding members of the alternative rock band Screaming Trees. He formed a band in 1984 in Ellensburg, Washington, along with his brother Gary Lee Conner and friends Mark Pickerel and Mark Lanegan.
Along with other well-known bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam, the group immediately established itself as an important player in the Pacific Northwest rock scene. Before partnering with the prominent indie label SST in the late 1980s, they released a number of albums on the Velvetone label. Several albums, including Even If and Especially When, Invisible Lantern, and Buzz Factory, were subsequently released due to this.
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden co-produced the band’s 1990 major label debut, Uncle Anesthesia, which was made possible by their signing with Epic Records. Their breakout single, “Nearly Lost You,” which was featured in the film Singles, contributed to the band’s establishment in the late ’80s and early ’90s American indie scene.
Conner remained involved in the music business as a musician after the band split up in 2000 and played with groups like Gardener, Musk Ox, and VALIS. Conner issued a solo album titled “Coming Back Again” in 2019.
How did Van Conner die? What was his cause of death?
Conner died of pneumonia, according to his brother and bandmate Gary Lee Conner. Many fans and musicians have rushed to social media to express their sorrow and pay their respects to the late bassist after discovering Conner’s passing.
Following the passing of vocalist Mark Lanegan last year, Conner’s demise represents the band’s second loss. The Screaming Trees were a member of the early wave of Pacific Northwest rock bands that emerged before the grunge movement, and their music contributed to the formation of the late ’80s and early ’90s American indie scene.
Tributes pour in for Van Conner
Expressing his grief over Van Conner’s death, one of his friends, Christopher Collier, shared a Facebook post on his account. He wrote, “From 1967-2023 Van liked to wear large rings, but fist-bumping with Van was a risk I took without hesitation. Van’s art has been huge to me for so long. Van wrote fantastic music. Superb music. Important music.
Van was private. Van was complicated. Van was great. RIP Van.
Another of Van Conner’s friends, Barrett Martin, wrote, “I can’t believe another Screaming Tree has fallen but it’s true – we lost Van Conner last night. He had been suffering for a long time, years actually, so I hope his passing was gentle and kind, like the gentle and kind spirit that he is. Van was one of the greatest bass players I ever had the honor of playing with, he and I had a deep swing in our rhythm section, a kind of “battleship swing” is how I would describe it. I will always miss that about him, his giant swing.
I also remember, after the countless shows we played together, how he would hold court like a jovial, Falstaff-ian character with a circle of people around him, as he told stories and made people laugh while nursing a beer and cooly dragging on a cigarette. Van always made people laugh – what a wonderful gift to offer the world, laughter. Van Patrick Conner, born on St. Patrick’s Day 1967, is exactly one month older than me but also like a brother.
Someone recently posted this video of him and I did an interview in 1992 as we promoted the Screaming Trees album, “Sweet Oblivion.” We were both 25, so young. I never watch these things but somehow watching this reminds me of Van in the best kind of way. What a beautiful soul. A lot of people are going to miss him, the remaining Screaming Trees especially.
Our deepest condolences go to Van Conner’s family, friends, and fans in his untimely death. Conner will be remembered as a gifted musician and a dear friend, and for his contributions to the band and the music business.
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