Col. Bruce Hampton, 70, died shortly after collapsing on stage during the final song of a four-hour tribute concert held in honor of his 70th birthday, reports JamBase.
In an unedited video, since removed from Youtube, Hampton collapsed after a John Popper harmonica solo and remained motionless on stage near a sound monitor for several minutes while members of the band played on. As JamBase reported, Hampton was sometimes known for his crazy stage antics, so it took some time for everyone to realize something was actually wrong with Hampton. Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes was one of the first to check on Hampton and help arrived shortly after, carrying Hampton off the stage as the show ended.
Hampton died a short time later at an Atlanta hospital, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Hampton, whose birth name is Gustav Berglund III, began his music career in the late 60’s with the Hampton Grease Band, according to NPR. Hampton is credited with helping inspire many improvisational “jam band” artists including Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews and Phish.
Hampton is probably best know for his work with the band The Aquarium Rescue Unit, which featured other members Jimmy Herring, Otiel and Kofi Burbridge and Jeff Sipe. The band earned a reputation for their free-flowing performances and improvisational twists and participated in the inaugural H.O.R.D.E tour with Blues Traveler, Phish, Panic, Spin Doctors and The Fleck Tones in 1992, according to Relix.
Hampton also was in the 1996 movie Sling Blade with Billy Bob Thornton. According to NPR, Thornton referred to Hampton as “the eighth wonder of the world” in Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton, a 2012 documentary.
The star-studded tribute concert, Hampton 70: A Celebration of Col. Bruce Hampton, featured performances by Hampton, along with guests including Dave Schools, Duane Trucks, Jimmy Herring, Karl Denson, Jon Fishman, Warren Haynes, Chuck Leavell, John Popper, Billy Bob Thorton, Jake Peavy and many more.
Fellow musician and friend Jeff Mosier, who was on stage when Hampton collapsed, shared the following emotional video about Hampton and the events that took place on Monday.
Other fellow musicians and friends have taken to social media to pay their respects.