Jon Rossi, the frontman and guitarist for the band, Pilgrim, has died at the young age of 26, according to numerous posts and tributes from colleagues in the metal community and in metal publications.
According to Metal Injection, the death comes as a surprise because the band had just completed a performance. “Pilgrim just played in Providence with Cobalt and The Obsessed on October 25,” Metal Injection reported when announcing Rossi’s untimely death on October 27, 2017.
Little is known about the Rhode Island-born Rossi’s cause of death, but tributes are lauding his musical talent and expressing shock that he has died so young before even reaching the age of 30. The band Pilgrim itself last posted on Facebook the day of its last performance. However, on October 30, the band posted a link to Rossi’s obituary with the statement, “All are welcome to attend one or both services. Thank you for all your support.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rossi’s Cause of Death Has Not Yet Been Released
An obvious question that many fans have when a musical talent dies young is how did the person die? However, according to Metal Injunction, Rossi’s cause of death has not been released. “No cause of death has been given at this point,” reported Brooklyn Vegan, which posted a tribute to Rossi.
One potentially ominous sign: “Last week, they cancelled their European tour,” reported Brooklyn Vegan. “Rest in peace, Jon. You’ll be missed,” the site noted. Pilgrim’s last Facebook post before Rossi’s death, on October 25, read, “Witness the meteoric rise of Braddok the Unconquerable as he officially takes up the mantle of PILGRIM drummer tonight opening for The Obsessed at DUSK.”
According to his Facebook page, Rossi dubbed himself “Wizard at Pilgrim” and wrote that he had “studied Riffs at the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend.” He wrote on Facebook that he lived in Newport, Rhode Island, was from Richmond Rhode Island, and was single.
Rossi’s obituary reads, “Jonathan Michael Rossi, 26, of Saunderstown, died unexpectedly October 26, 2017. He is survived by his mother Rosaria Luzzi-Yarn, father Kasim Yarn, sister Giovanna Lucile Yarn and grandparents, Asunta Luzzi and Jeraldine Tessitore. Jonathan was predeceased by his biological father Michael Angelo Rossi, grandfather Giovanni Luzzi and uncle Robert Rossi. He is also survived by his aunts and uncles, Federico Luzzi, Angelo Luzzi, John Luzzi and his wife Lisa, Arthur Rossi, Shirley Rossi-Rivera and Jennifer Tessitore; as well as many cousins; and his band family, Eric Dittrich, Brad Richardson and Nick Nosach.”
Added the obit, “Jonathan, a.k.a. ‘The Wizard,’ was a very talented musician. He was the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the band Pilgrim. He will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him.” Instead of flowers, contributions are being accepted for a musical scholarship in Rossi’s memory.
2. Another Doom Band Announced the Death, Calling Rossi a ‘Wizard’
Although Pilgrim had not yet posted on Jon Rossi’s death, another doom band, Devil, posted a statement confirming that he had died. The statement, posted on Facebook read:
The world has lost a wizard. We are very sorry to hear about the passing of Jon Rossi of Pilgrim. We crossed paths a couple of times, and a more humble and kind soul you won’t come across often. Our deepest condolances to Jon’s family, friends and his brothers in Pilgrim. Rest in Peace, Wizard. The pilgrimage has just begun.
Metal Devastation Radio joined those in mourning Rossi’s death, writing, “I never got to meet him in person but he was one of the first interviews i did for my radio show check this out from 2014! Back then i remember being very nervous about doing interviews but The Wizard was such a cool down to earth dude he made me feel comfortable right away, rest in peace brother!”
3. The Band Wrote That It Was Cancelling Its European Tour Because ‘Allies’ had Let It Down
The statement the band posted announcing the European tour cancellation – made before Rossi’s death – gave no indication that anything was awry with him. Instead, it focused on unnamed allies supposedly letting the band down. In fact, the post indicated the band was looking forward to continuing to share its music with fans. This is what the statement said in full:
With sincerest regret, we must announce that our European appearances this fall have been canceled. The three of us have been rigorously practicing for this excursion for the entire year and have been eagerly waiting for our triumphant return to Europe. We were looking forward to this adventure for a long time, but our allies have let us down. We learned at the last possible moment that crucial aspects of our plan were not as solid as we were led to believe and the tour suddenly crumbled. We will take this lesson to heart and have plans to be more independent with our next endeavors. Our next release is well under way and we are thrilled to share more music with you as we continue our quest unhindered by the evils of this realm.
Rossi’s last post on Facbeook, on September 21, 2017, referenced the European tour and said, “GERMANY!!!! Keep yours eyes peeled for upcoming European tour dates as they are announced.” In late August, he joked, “Breaking News: PILGRIM cancels European tour after going blind watching solar eclipse.” He wrote a lot about music in recent months, saying, “I recorded some new black metal, this time more fantasy influenced. I’ve been wanting to do this project for a long time.”
4. Pilgrim Got Its Start in 2009 & Borrowed Nicknames From Dungeons & Dragons
Pilgrim launched in 2009-2010, according to Metal Forces Magazine, and it was made up of a trio: Rossi, Eric Dittrich on bass, and Nick Nosach on drums. They adopted nicknames, with Rossi known as the wizard. Their names were “formerly their Dungeons & Dragons monikers from the days they used to play the fantasy role-playing game,” the publication reported. In a radio interview, which you can listen to below, Rossi said that he and his drummer met on the first day of high school and had played in various bands since they were small. They even had a band named Horsehead.
In 2011, the band released Forsaken Man, a “two-track demo,” according to Metal Forces Magazine. Alan Averill’s label Poison Tongue Records “signed Pilgrim on Nvoember 22nd of that year,” themagazine reported. In 2012, a full-length studio album called Misery Wizard was released. They were signed by Metal Blade in 2013, and Dittrich left Pilgrim. In 2013, they released II: Void Worship.
“Everybody says that we’re a doom metal band because we listen to doom metal and we like to play things dark and heavy, but we have a lot more influences than that that make up what we sound like though,” Rossi told Metal Forces. “A lot of it is – like I said – from the 90s, a lot of grunge bands and things like that. I guess if you had to choose a genre and describe it, I think doom metal would be the best.”
5. Tributes Flowed Into Social Media
Friends and colleagues posted tributes to Rossi on Facebook and Twitter. “Jon Rossi A.K.A. The Wizard of the band Pilgrim. I am so upset right now about what I just heard. At work trying to keep my composure,” wrote John Hartley. “Always extremely polite & friendly. Nothing but positive remarks about my band and my artwork. We weren’t close but you were a friend. Catch you on the flip side Brother.”
“Rest in power, Jon Rossi. Your voice and friendship were such gifts. Hail the Pilgrim, one of true doom’s greats,” wrote Kim Kelly on Twitter. Nick from Kerange! wrote, “Goodbye, Jon Rossi of Pilgrim. A superb talent, and a wonderful man. RIP, doom wizard.”