Colonel Bruce Hampton was being honored Monday night with a birthday concert featuring members of Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes and the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, where he collapsed on-stage during an encore performance of "Turn on Your Lovelight."
Born Gustav Berglund III in Knoxville, Tennessee, his career began with the Hampton Grease Band, who toured with The Grateful Dead during the late Sixties. In the 1990's, as leader of the Aquarium Rescue Unit and later The Fiji Mariners, Hampton helped shape the H.O.R.D.E tours and was widely credited as the patriarch of the jam band movement that includes artists like Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band and Phish.
Aquarium Rescue Unit member Rev. Jeff Mosier posted on Facebook, “He died at Crawford Long Hospital here in Atlanta just a while ago. I feel so blessed to have been there tonight and be a part of the greatest gathering of friends and loved ones. I’ve never seen Bruce happier. I’ve never been sadder. I’ve dreaded this day for years, but could have never imagined a more joyful departure. I feel so lost."
Billy Bob Thornton referred to Hampton as "the eighth wonder of the world" in the documentary Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton. Hampton played Morris, the songwriting band manager, in Thornton's 1996 film Sling Blade.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal presented Hampton with the Governor's Award In The Arts and Humanities in 2012.
He was 70 years old.
Photo: Roger Gupta, Col Bruce Hampton playing at the Lantern, in Blacksburg VA 8/1/08. Via Creative Commons/Wikipedia.