Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Passings: Bassist Rob Wasserman (1952 - 2016)

by VVN Music

Bassist Rob Wasserman, who has worked with numerous artists but is probably best known for his association with Bob Weir and RatDog, has died.

Weir posted earlier today that Wasserman was hospitalized and facing "a serious struggle". He followed just before 6:30 PM EDT with the message "One of the world's most beautiful friends and artists has left us. May Rob's warmth and music live in your hearts as it always has in mine."

Wasserman originally played violin before switching to bass in his mid-teens. He was classically trained, attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with bassists from the San Francisco Symphony.

His early professional career tended towards a more jazz sound, playing with Van Morrison, Dan Hicks, Maria Muldaur and the David Grisman Quartet and, in 1983, he issued his debut album, Solo, which won Downbeat's Record of the Year. He followed with Duets (1988) and Trios (1994) which included guests such as Ricky Lee Jones, Cheryl Bentyne of the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin, Lou Reed, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello and Brian Wilson.

In the late-80's, Wasserman teamed up with Bob Weir to tour as Weir/Wasserman, Scaring the Children and under other names. The pair played Woodstock '94, eventually adding Jay Lane on drums and Matthew Kelly on guitar in 1995. Originally known as Friends of Montezuma, they changed their name to RatDog by the middle of '95.

Their loan studio album was 2000's Evening Moods and they followed the next year with the live set Live at Roseland. Even without new music to promote, the band stayed active for years as a popular live act.  Weir, Wasserman and Lane also toured in 1999 as RD3.

Later in his career, Wasserman released the space rock themed Space Island (2000) and Cosmic Farm (2005).