Van Conner, co-founding bassist in alternative rock band Screaming treeshas died at the age of 55.
Conner’s brother and bandmate, Gary Lee Conner, shared the news in a statement on social media. “Van Conner, bassist and songwriter of the Screaming Trees, died last night of a long illness at the age of 55,” he wrote. “It was pneumonia that finally got him. He was one of the closest friends I ever had and I loved him so much. I will miss him forever and ever and ever.”
Born in 1967 in Apple Valley, California, and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, Conner formed the band Explosive Generation in high school with his brother, who played guitar, and drummer Mark Pickerel. The trio soon recruited a singer Mark Lanegan and renamed themselves the Screaming Trees. The quartet released several albums on independent labels in the late 80s, mixing hard rock and neo-psychedelia to become progenitors of the Seattle sound, along with bands such as Melvin’sMudhoney and Green River.
Screaming Trees signed to Epic Records in 1990, and their major debut, Uncle Anesthesia, arrived the following year and spawned the Top 40 alternative radio hit “Bed of Roses”. Its follow-up, the 1992s Sweet Oblivion, became the band’s first Billboard 200 entry, peaking at No. 141 and spawning the No. 5 alt-radio hit “Nearly Lost You” and the Top 40 “Dollar Bill”. After a gap of four years, the band was released Dust in 1996, went on an extended hiatus after its support tour and officially disbanded in 2000. A shelved follow-up to Dust arrived in 2011 under the name Last words: The last recordings.
Conner also briefly toured with Dinosaur Jr. in the 90s, and after the breakup of Screaming Trees, he formed several other alt-rock bands, including Gardener and Musk Ox. The bassist’s death comes less than a year after Lanegan died at the age of 57.
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