Upright bassist noted for his work with Bob Weir, Neil Young and others
By David Sands
July 1, 2016
We’re sorry to say we’ve lost another great one. The Grammy-winning bassist Rob Wasserman, who’s best known for his work with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir in the band RatDog, has died. Wasserman passed away Wednesday (June 29) at age 64 after struggling with health issues that have not been revealed.
During his prolific career, the versatile upright bassist developed a reputation as a sensational session player and collaborated with a host of respected artists including Brian Wilson, David Grisman, Van Morrison, Dan Hicks, Maria Muldaur, Neil Young, Aaron Neville, the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin, Lou Reed, Rickie Lee Jones, Metallica and Elvis Costello. Wasserman is noted for the jazzy approach he brought to his bass playing.
Bob Weir, the fellow musician he’s probably mostly closely associated with, shared the following commentary about his late friend on Facebook:
“I’m devastated to pass along that Rob Wasserman lost his struggle today, and we have lost a beautiful friend and artist. I can still hear the sound of his bow playing those strings unamplified and pure. It’s one of the most glorious sounds I’ve ever heard, and the music and warmth he gave us will live on in the hearts of everyone he touched.”
Wasserman started his musical journey playing the violin when he was 12-years-old and switched to the bass at the age of 20. Classically-trained, he studied composition and double bass at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Early on, he earned his chops playing with artists like Van Morrison and Oingo Boingo. In addition to his work with other artists, he recorded the solo albums Solo (1983), Duets (1988), Trios (1994) and Space Island (2000). As part of an instrumental quartet that also featured guitarist Craig Erickson, drummer Jeff Sipe and keyboardist T Lavitz, he released the jazz fusion album Cosmic Farm in 2005.
The bassist was nominated for three Grammy Awards for his album Duets and won one for collaborating with Bobby Mcferrin on Brothers. He was also awarded Holland’s Edison Award for Record of the Year.
Wasserman is survived by his wife Veronica, daughter Sara and siblings Cindy and Bruce.
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