Vince Welnick Commits Suicide

Just catching this first thing Saturday morning…

From Mercury News…

Vince Welnick, 55, who played keyboards with the Grateful Dead for five years before the death of band founder Jerry Garcia, died Friday.

Sonoma County sheriffs said he was taken, injured, from his home in rural Forestville near Santa Rosa, to a local hospital.

He died there, police said.

An unofficial spokesman at the Welnick home said, “It looks like he took his own life.” But that is not known for sure, he said. “The family is very grieved, and trying to figure it all out.”

It makes me quiver whenever the thought that someone took their own life is even a possibility, let alone confirmed. Truly a sad day.

Update (6/5): Suicide has been confirmed as the cause of death. Ugh.


In the forum post entitled “Goodbye my friend…” written by the Mike Lawson, Vince Welnick’s webmaster…

Vince Welnick is gone. He was the sweetest human I have ever known. Kind, generous, funny and warm hearted. He was my friend. He was talented, so fucking talented. I was lucky to know him. So, damned lucky to know him and Lori. God bless you, Lori. I’m so, so sorry.

Vince never got over the cruel way that the Grateful Dead band members treated him after Jerry died. He never got over the sorrow of losing Jerry, facing his own demons without his friend and could not understand how the remaining fellow band-members treated him like shit the past several years.

I cannot possibly describe to you the hurt and anguish he felt when “The Dead” decided to have a “Family Reunion of the SURVIVING MEMBERS” of Grateful Dead, a band that he was no mere sideman for its last five years, but a full member of by order of Jerry Garcia. How damned insulting was it to have a “surviving members family reunion” and not invite your new brother? He was the proverbial red-headed step-child to them. Did it occur to you how that hurt him, Bill, Bob, Phil, Mickey? The truth is that you selfish bastards did not care if it hurt him. He’s a big boy, he just had to get over it, right?

I remember seeing Todd Rundgen at the “Walk Down Abbey Road” show in Concord, CA around the same time when that “Family Reunion” was booked. He asked how Vince was, and I told him about this “family reunion” concert of SURVIVING MEMBERS and how Vince was specifically not invited, but in fact was playing a gig at a campground not far from the show. Todd said, “Uh, Vince isn’t dead, isn’t he a surviving member?” He got the irony. I got the irony, but I also saw the hurt like none of you can believe. Vince kept a brave face about it, trying to remain cheerful, hoping that somehow, someday the tide would turn, the phone would ring and it would be Bob Weir calling him. Calling just to say, “How are you, Vinny?” Something. Anything.

I am certain that Jerry would have been completely disgusted with the terrible, cruel and despicable way that Vince was treated by the band, the management, etc. following his death. The lack of compassion displayed toward him, the ostracizing he felt burned and hurt Vince very deeply. He was a sensitive, sweet soul. He just couldn’t handle the rejection. He and I spent hours and hours talking about these things, trying to get the demons out, which led to him pouring out his heart when that show happened, right on this website.

I told Vince to get his story out, tell everybody what happened on that Ratdog bus, tell them everything. Tell them how Bob and Ratdog sent him, having overdosed on the tour bus, to a hospital alone in the back of a taxi cab, without a friend in site, and had him checked in as John Doe, while they played the show anyway. Tell them, Vince how you were despondent over facing life-threatening cancer, a simultaneous diagnosis of Emphysema, and instead of staying home to try to heal and get immediate surgery, how you chose to give the fans the ill-fated summer 95 Dead tour. Tell them how nobody in the band even acknowledged, though they damned well knew, that Vince was very sick.

Tell them Vince, I said, how you didn’t want to let the fans and the band down, and how eery it was on the tour knowing all these people who were your “friends” never asked how you were while on the road or even stepped aside with you to acknowledge that struggle you were facing. Tell everyone, Vince, how when you returned from the road, and Jerry was dead, how you were flung into the hell of depression facing lung disease, cancer and now your friend dying, and how you saw your world crash around you ever more when months later the band unceremoniously announced it was over. Tell them Vince, tell everyone and get the demons out.

Even more amazing than the band being cold to him, I could never understand why so-called “dead heads” and “fans” spent hours coming into this site and fucking with Vince, taunting him, posting evil, nasty lies about him. I finally had to turn this into a registration-only website to help shield my friend from the cruelness that some people took sport in on the message boards. Vince could take a joke, he could take a lot, but he finally couldn’t take any more.

I had long, heart to heart talks with him for months before he told some of that story to you here, though not even close to all that detail. Vince didn’t want to hurt the other guys, he just fucking wanted to play with them.

Do you hear me, Phil? Do you hear me, Mickey? Do you hear me, Bobby? Do you hear me, Bill? That’s all he fucking wanted, was to play music with you guys. He loved you and you fucking treated him like shit. To see your “heartfelt” message on Dead.net today sickens me to no end, you fucking bunch of lying hypocrites. There is nothing left to hold back on now. Is it so hard to return the man’s phone calls? Is it so hard to understand what he went through back then and how far he had come since that dreadful night on that Ratdog bus? Where is the love? Where is the compassion? Hippy love? Bull-fucking-shit. You guys could have been nice to him, invited him along, not made him feel like an ass and like he was bugging you if he called. Are you happy, Cameron? Are you? Go fuck yourself.


From Relix…

Welnick was not without his demons. In 2003, the keyboard told Relix/Jambands.com, “I tried to off myself in the RatDog bus in ‘95, right before Christmas, right after The Dead died. I pretty much hit bottom there and I’m sure that hasn’t helped my popularity with Bobby. I think that shook him up so much, and the other members of the band so much, that it contributed to why I am no longer being called to participate.” But, he did avoid certain trappings. “I coughed a pretty good attitude [laughs], but I didn’t get into heroin,” Welnick says. “I never used needles, never used freebase and that kind of stuff. I drew that line as a kid. No needles, no freebase, no heroin and never broke that promise myself.”

From Reuters…

Welnick is the fourth keyboard player for the band to have died, and his Web site referred to the position as a “particularly doomed spot.”

He once told an interviewer, “A lot of people ask about that and my stock answer is that I am aware of the fact that you could die doing this job, but I was somewhat dying of boredom before the job came up so I thought I’d take my chances.”

In an extension of the band’s “curse of the keyboard player,” Scott Larned, cofounder and keyboard player for the nationally-touring Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra, died last year of a heart attack.


Links:
Vince Welnick | Wikipedia

16 COMMENTS

  1. So sorry to all those close to Vince that loved him. A good man, an amazing musician. Will never forget you, will listen to your music forever!
    …from a dedicated Tubes Fan

  2. So sorry to all those close to Vince that loved him. A good man, an amazing musician. Will never forget you, will listen to your music forever!
    …from a dedicated Tubes Fan

  3. Vince and Lori and I have had many decades of friendship and love, laughs and sorrows. This is the hardest one. He wasn’t just my brother he was my friend. There was no one closer to me. He and Lori WERE family and were in my heart and mind everyday. I had just called him at the ranch last week. Planned to see him at the ranch soon.
    My love truely goes out to my sister Lori who has always been so gracious to me no matter what condition we were in. DAMN !! I have no feeling at the moment. I am numb. Part of me really is gone. Vince you finally made me cry.

  4. Vince and Lori and I have had many decades of friendship and love, laughs and sorrows. This is the hardest one. He wasn’t just my brother he was my friend. There was no one closer to me. He and Lori WERE family and were in my heart and mind everyday. I had just called him at the ranch last week. Planned to see him at the ranch soon.
    My love truely goes out to my sister Lori who has always been so gracious to me no matter what condition we were in. DAMN !! I have no feeling at the moment. I am numb. Part of me really is gone. Vince you finally made me cry.

  5. met vince . at nlqp he was a very humble person.. rest and peace brother.. and for the phony guys in the dead.. go fuck youself.. you hang onto jerry coattails. phony hippies just for the money…

  6. met vince . at nlqp he was a very humble person.. rest and peace brother.. and for the phony guys in the dead.. go fuck youself.. you hang onto jerry coattails. phony hippies just for the money…

  7. After reading this messsage board I am now compelled to
    write a small note. I had the
    honor of hostessing CHET HELMS
    last two photography exhibitions in my art atelier called : ARTEMIS GALLERY.

    Chet shot a beautiful portrait of Vince Welnick from a left-side pose. Vince is holding a white tea cup in distinguish
    repose.

    When that photo was hung the
    day of Chet’s opening , I said to Chetski:
    ” whoa , this piece looks like a portrait that Rembrant might have painted, of Van Gogh!

    Chet answered , with a Santa
    Clause smile,pondering the lighting of his
    piece ,”it’s Vince Welnick , a buddy that played for the Greatful Dead and one of the original
    members of the famed TUBES”.

    The portrait captured the kindness of the man , and I was
    eager to meet him at the opening.

    What struck me curious about the remaining members of the Grateful Dead that were included in Chet’s last live show was NONE , and I mean NONE of members of the remaing DEAD attended CHET’s opening before he past away two months later.

    I know that didn’t set well with Chet while the show was
    up for two months.

    On retrospect I believe Chet
    was counting on their support as he was dying of HepC.

    I sold out the show
    the last day of the exhibition.
    thanks to the foresight of
    GREG COLLIN who purchased the
    whole collection including the
    classic of Vince.
    Greg palyed for quicksilver &
    was a roadie
    for Quicksilver. Greg new all the artsits including Vince.
    Greg asked if the dead had come by the show and I said NO.

    Where were the DEAD then ? Not one band member
    came by the exhibition last year to help support Chet’s plight. He was dying of Hep C and passed two months after the
    show.

    I am not surprised
    that there is this kind of reaction to Vince and his untimely death.

    It seems living is Ross
    is more important.

    Quel Domage as they say in French and perhaps those Titans
    of DEAD will have something more to think about via how they thank thoses that have been there for them.

    My deepest sympathies to vince’s
    family members and know Chet
    Helms had beautiful words to say about this soulful music man.

    I invite anyone reading this to enter into Chet Helms
    website and view this exqusite portrait of Vince that Chet
    immortalized in his own way.

    http://www.digfotos.com …chick “MAN”
    album and vince is on the first page I believe.

    Sincerely,
    Famous Melissa

  8. After reading this messsage board I am now compelled to
    write a small note. I had the
    honor of hostessing CHET HELMS
    last two photography exhibitions in my art atelier called : ARTEMIS GALLERY.

    Chet shot a beautiful portrait of Vince Welnick from a left-side pose. Vince is holding a white tea cup in distinguish
    repose.

    When that photo was hung the
    day of Chet’s opening , I said to Chetski:
    ” whoa , this piece looks like a portrait that Rembrant might have painted, of Van Gogh!

    Chet answered , with a Santa
    Clause smile,pondering the lighting of his
    piece ,”it’s Vince Welnick , a buddy that played for the Greatful Dead and one of the original
    members of the famed TUBES”.

    The portrait captured the kindness of the man , and I was
    eager to meet him at the opening.

    What struck me curious about the remaining members of the Grateful Dead that were included in Chet’s last live show was NONE , and I mean NONE of members of the remaing DEAD attended CHET’s opening before he past away two months later.

    I know that didn’t set well with Chet while the show was
    up for two months.

    On retrospect I believe Chet
    was counting on their support as he was dying of HepC.

    I sold out the show
    the last day of the exhibition.
    thanks to the foresight of
    GREG COLLIN who purchased the
    whole collection including the
    classic of Vince.
    Greg palyed for quicksilver &
    was a roadie
    for Quicksilver. Greg new all the artsits including Vince.
    Greg asked if the dead had come by the show and I said NO.

    Where were the DEAD then ? Not one band member
    came by the exhibition last year to help support Chet’s plight. He was dying of Hep C and passed two months after the
    show.

    I am not surprised
    that there is this kind of reaction to Vince and his untimely death.

    It seems living is Ross
    is more important.

    Quel Domage as they say in French and perhaps those Titans
    of DEAD will have something more to think about via how they thank thoses that have been there for them.

    My deepest sympathies to vince’s
    family members and know Chet
    Helms had beautiful words to say about this soulful music man.

    I invite anyone reading this to enter into Chet Helms
    website and view this exqusite portrait of Vince that Chet
    immortalized in his own way.

    http://www.digfotos.com …chick “MAN”
    album and vince is on the first page I believe.

    Sincerely,
    Famous Melissa

  9. I was lucky enough to sit in with Vince and Gent Treadly a few years ago. After the show, my fiance and I spoke with him for a while. He really had a wonderful presence! That was what i remember most about him onstage and off.

  10. I was lucky enough to sit in with Vince and Gent Treadly a few years ago. After the show, my fiance and I spoke with him for a while. He really had a wonderful presence! That was what i remember most about him onstage and off.

  11. Vince was my uncle but due to family circumstances I never met him. My 14 year old son was fortunate enough to have spent the weekend with him and Lori last month and fell in love with Vince – Vince was such a positive influence on my son. He taught him how to play Boogie Woogie on Vince’s piano – my son plays drums, guitar, etc. and has long fingers like Vince had (Gregory would be so embarrassed if he read this – Sorry Gregory if you come acros this post) – but I think it is important to say how much of a valued man Vince was and how sorry I am that he is now gone. Lori, Ginny, Grandpa, Gregory, Ricky, how terrible to have lost this man to demons apparently according to his webmaster truly belong in hell. Part of our narcissitic society the other GD members belong to, it sounds like. Lori, Ginny, Grandpa and Gregory – I feel the loss substantially for all those that saw the good kind Vince and I hope that he is now in a place where he can see how much he was cared for. Lori, I have not talked to you since this happened,but please take care of yourself; know that Gregory and I love you and hope you are okay.

  12. Vince was my uncle but due to family circumstances I never met him. My 14 year old son was fortunate enough to have spent the weekend with him and Lori last month and fell in love with Vince – Vince was such a positive influence on my son. He taught him how to play Boogie Woogie on Vince’s piano – my son plays drums, guitar, etc. and has long fingers like Vince had (Gregory would be so embarrassed if he read this – Sorry Gregory if you come acros this post) – but I think it is important to say how much of a valued man Vince was and how sorry I am that he is now gone. Lori, Ginny, Grandpa, Gregory, Ricky, how terrible to have lost this man to demons apparently according to his webmaster truly belong in hell. Part of our narcissitic society the other GD members belong to, it sounds like. Lori, Ginny, Grandpa and Gregory – I feel the loss substantially for all those that saw the good kind Vince and I hope that he is now in a place where he can see how much he was cared for. Lori, I have not talked to you since this happened,but please take care of yourself; know that Gregory and I love you and hope you are okay.

  13. I will always remember Vince Welnick first and foremost as a founding member of The Tubes. It’s an interesting sidebar to his life story that he played with the Grateful Dead for its final … and fizzled … five years. It was The Tubes that rightfully should define Welnick’s place in the history of American Popular Music. The Tubes were the Bay Area’s Masterpiece Theater of theatrical rock gone off the deep end. A brilliant ensemble that used visual art to supersize its musical ambitions in a manner that surpassed its predecessors like The Mothers of Invention and contemporaries such as The Residents. “White Punks on Dope” became an anthem for a generation and entered the general vocabulary as a catch phrase and socio-political statement.

  14. I will always remember Vince Welnick first and foremost as a founding member of The Tubes. It’s an interesting sidebar to his life story that he played with the Grateful Dead for its final … and fizzled … five years. It was The Tubes that rightfully should define Welnick’s place in the history of American Popular Music. The Tubes were the Bay Area’s Masterpiece Theater of theatrical rock gone off the deep end. A brilliant ensemble that used visual art to supersize its musical ambitions in a manner that surpassed its predecessors like The Mothers of Invention and contemporaries such as The Residents. “White Punks on Dope” became an anthem for a generation and entered the general vocabulary as a catch phrase and socio-political statement.

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