Jam Band Favorite 'Colonel' Bruce Hampton Dies Onstage At 70th Birthday Bash

On Monday morning, folks in Atlanta were preparing to attend a star-studded birthday concert at the Fox Theater. Today, jam bands and fans around the globe are mourning the abrupt demise of the guest of honor, "Colonel" Bruce Hampton who collapsed and died onstage during the grand finale.

"So sad to report at an amazing show tonight in Atlanta for Colonel Bruce Hampton's 70th birthday party. It was an incredible up to the encore, then Colonel Bruce dropped to his knees and collapsed on the floor, people thought it was just Bruce being Bruce. He was there for a few minutes before people realized it was not part of the act. Sadly it has now been Confirmed that Col. Bruce Hampton passed away. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. You can see it here in the very early seconds of the clip right in front of a young 14-year-old who is playing a blistering guitar solo. Another vivid reminder of how incredibly fragile this life of our is. Rest In Peace Col. Bruce!"
"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."

Jam band fans, especially those of the Phish persuasion, may be more familiar with Col. Bruce's name than most. Hampton's band, Code Talkers, opened numerous Phish concerts, and a solo Hampton was also known to sit in with the band at random times, always to the delight of jam fans. Phish was not the only band influenced by the ever-eclectic Colonel. Leftover Salmon mandolin player, Drew Emmitt, described his respect for Hampton to Paste magazine.

"All of us were heavily influenced by Bruce and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. He was the best I'd heard. I wound up playing a whole tour with them, so I guess I was kind of in the band, sort of. Hanging on by the skin of my teeth."
"I've wanted to be Little Richard since I was eight-years-old, but I've failed miserably. At the time I thought, 'Gawd, I can do this s**t, this is so much fun, this is easy.' Then I spent the next 50 years trying to find the tonal center."