Todd Nance, the founding drummer of rock band Widespread Panic, died on Wednesday, August 19, in Athens, Georgia. The 57-year-old musician died from “sudden and unexpectedly severe complications of a chronic illness,” his family said in a statement posted to the Widespread Panic Facebook page. There was no additional information provided about the nature of the illness or his cause of death.
A message from his former bandmates, also posted to the Facebook page, reads:
With heavy hearts and loving memories we say goodbye to our Brother Todd Alton Nance. Widespread Panic was born the night of Todd’s first show… For thirty years Todd was the engine of the Widespread Panic. He wrote great songs, and was a giving and forgiving collaborator. T Man was the epitome of a ‘team player.’ Drove the band and drove the van. Funny, adventurous, and a very kind soul, we wish Todd and his family peace during the sad time after so many happy times. Safe travels, Brother Todd.
Nance Founded Widespread Panic in 1986 & Spent Over 30 Years With the Band Before Parting Ways
Nance was born on November 20, 1962, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was passionate about music from a young age and got his first drumkit at the age of 13, Relix reported. During high school, he played in a high school band with guitarist Michael Houser, with whom he would eventually form Widespread Panic. After high school, he moved to Georgia and in 1986, he reconnected with Houser and they formed Widespread Panic alongside bassist Dave Schools and guitarist John Bell.
The band became well-known in the Georgia area before becoming a more nationally known group. According to Jambase, Nance drummed on all of Widespread Panic’s 12 studio albums except Street Dogs. Nance was also a part of the legendary Widespread Panic show in Athens, Georgia, which drew over 100,000 people.
In the fall of 2014, Nance took a break from the band to “take time to attend to personal matters” and returned in 2016 for four shows at the “Panic en La Playa” event. After that, Nance left the group permanently, telling Jambase, “Basically, I had 31 great years touring with the band. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But, things do change as time goes on. I had to address those issues and put my professional life on the sideline. So now that I’ve gotten that stuff out of the way, I’ve tried to get back to work. That’s pretty much it.” He was replaced by drummer Duane Trucks.
More recently, Nance was involved in various projects including Interstellar Boys, Todd Nance & Friends, Bloodkin and the Dyrty Byrds.
Fans & Former Colleagues Posted Tributes to the Late Drummer
Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars posted on Facebook, writing in part: “Todd had that deep, southern boogie groove. It was undeniable and infectious. The real deal Holyfield. His signature drumming style influenced so many. His performances brought happiness and joy to us all.”
One person wrote, “RIP to Todd Nance. Soo many good shows with you. Give Mikey a hug for us all. Rest easy. Roll Todd.” Another said, “The drums that all the waves rest on. Thanks for the ride, Todd Nance. We love ya.”
RIP to the Toddfather, Todd Nance. We danced and twirled to your rhythms many nights, and I will always be so grateful for that. Deepest sympathies to his family and @WidespreadPanic and crew. Roll Todd. pic.twitter.com/Esq537AFpS
— Ben Deco (@BenDeco666) August 19, 2020
One fan wrote, “Still trying to find the right words for the passing of Todd Nance. Your music altered the path of my life many times, old friend. Rest easy & Roll Todd.”
Todd Nance always seemed like "one of us", ya know. Like he just strolled in out of the crowd and sat down at the kit. And yet he helped create that sound, that force, that changed so many of our lives. I'm truly saddened by his loss and incredibly grateful for the time we had.
— ScottDamn!🇺🇸🌎🎸💓 (@CSStuckey) August 19, 2020