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Tony Bellamy, Guitarist for Redbone, Passes Away at 69

Tony Bellamy, guitarist for the Native American band Redbone during their heyday, passed away on Christmas morning in Las Vegas at the age of 69.  Cause of death has been reported as liver failure.

Before joining Redbone, Bellamy was a member of Dobie Gray's band and was a member of the San Francisco group Peter and the Wolves who would eventually evolve into Moby Grape.  A Mexican-American Yaqui Indian, he met the brothers Partrick and Lolly Vasquez in 1968 who had been convinced to form a Native American rock group by their friend Jimi Hendrix.  The three musicians, along with Peter DePoe, formed Redbone later that year and were signed to Epic records in 1969.

Their first album, 1970's Redbone, did not chart but the second, 1971's Potlatch, went up 99 on the Album chart on the strength of the regional hit Maggie (1971/#45).  In 1972, they released the album Message From a Drum which peaked at 75 and contained the hit Witch Queen of New Orleans (1972/#21).  The band had their greatest success in 1974 with the album Wovoka which topped out at 66 and their major hit Come and Get Your Love (1974/#5 Pop/#75 R&B).

Bellamy left the group in 1977 and, three years later, formed the group Bim Bam with his cousin Butch Rillera.  He was brought back to Redbone in 1998 by Pat Vegas for the first annual Native American Music Awards and returned ten years later to be inducted into their Hall of Fame along with the rest of the members of the group.

The Native American Music Association released a statement saying they were "deeply saddened to learn of the passing. Anthony, or Tony "T-Bone" Bellamy, who attended the 10th Annual Native American Music Awards and was inducted into the N.A.M.A. Hall of Fame with Redbone in 2008.  He was a Mexican-American Yaqui Indian who became the lead guitarist, pianist and vocalist for Redbone. He was a beloved and endearing friend of the "Nammys" since its inception, and will be greatly missed."