Jam band patriarch Col. Bruce Hampton dies

Music was Col. Bruce Hampton’s lifeblood, and his death came hours after being surrounded by the things he loved most — family, friends, fans and an everlasting beat.

Hampton, affectionately known as the “Granddaddy of the Jam Scene,” was performing Monday night at “Hampton 70,” an all-star concert at the Fox Theatre, when he collapsed during the encore — Bobby Bland’s “Turn on Your Love Light.”

The idiosyncratic singer/guitarist, who turned 70 on April 30, was rushed to Emory University Hospital Midtown, where he died a couple of hours later.

PHOTOS: Col. Bruce Hampton through the years

Around 7:40 p.m. Monday, Hampton opened the sold-out concert to celebrate his birthday milestone and appeared locked in a groove with his backing band as he sang with clarity, his eyes closed and his knee bouncing to the beat. His initial appearance onstage prompted a wave of appreciative hoots and whistles from the clearly adoring crowd.

RELATED: Bruce Hampton: A rebel without a chord
During the four-hour show, musicians who came to honor his legacy — which included the avant-garde Hampton Grease Band, Aquarium Rescue Unit and the Codetalkers — included Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Popper, Oliver Wood, Dave Schools, Chuck Leavell, guitar prodigy Brandon Niederauer and many other rock and jam band luminaries.

Just before 3 a.m., Trucks and Tedeschi posted a notice on their Facebook page from Hampton’s family, confirming his death.
RELATED: Col. Bruce Hampton dies hours after 70th birthday celebration at the Fox Theatre

Hampton, born in Knoxville, Tenn., enjoyed a varied career that ranged from his progressive jazz-rock leanings that began with his first band in 1963 to appearing in a 2014 video for “Blockbuster Night, Pt. 1” with rap act Run the Jewels.

One of his more amusing legacies is the album “Music to Eat,” released with the Hampton Grease Band in 1971 on Columbia Records. It was reportedly the second worst-selling album on the label at that time, surpassed only by a yoga album.

In the ’90s, Hampton was instrumental in shaping the H.O.R.D.E. tours with Popper, who remained a friend and performed at the Monday tribute concert.

Hampton appeared in the 1996 film “Sling Blade” as a poet and band manager.

Hampton was also the subject of a documentary, “Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret.,” that premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival in March 2012.
RELATED: Atlantans react on social media to Bruce Hampton’s death

Earlier this year, AJC freelancer Jon Waterhouse, who emceed “Hampton 70,” wrote an in-depth profile of Hampton  — whom he likened to “the Dixie-fried answer to Frank Zappa” — that focused on his open-ended weekly residency at the Vista Room at Napoleon’s in Decatur.

In the story, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ frontman Kevn Kinney refers to Hampton as “a legend.”

“People don’t understand how far back he goes,” Kinney said. “He’s just the ultimate showman. He’s our P.T. Barnum. You never know when he’s going to pop out of the jack in the box.”

A message posted Tuesday on the website of Hampton’s record label, Ropeadope, hails Hampton’s legacy as well.

“This is not just the death of a celebrity whose music touched us, this is the departure of a GIFT that we as humans had the choice to recognize and learn from. Col. Bruce Hampton was a child at every age; he was the man who tested whether you were truly paying attention to the truth.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Initial vote set for 350-home subdivision proposed in ‘rural Gwinnett’
Initial vote set for 350-home subdivision proposed in ‘rural Gwinnett’

Gwinnett’s planning commission is scheduled to vote next week on a hotly contested proposal to bring a sprawling new subdivision to a rural area of the county.  The proposed rezoning — which would help pave the way for a 356-home subdivision on about 160 wooded acres near June Ivey and Indian Shoals roads — is slated to be voted...
More than 50 shots fired near Cobb little league baseball game
More than 50 shots fired near Cobb little league baseball game

Families fled from a little league baseball game in Cobb County over the weekend as shots rang out nearby, reports Channel 2 Action News. Cobb police told the station that it isn’t clear what led to the shooting Saturday’s incident at Wallace Park in Austell. “A war zone. It was terrifying,” Sydnee Fraiser told WSB-TV....
UPDATE: 2 killed in wrong-way crash
UPDATE: 2 killed in wrong-way crash

Two people were killed Thursday morning in a wrong-way crash in Carroll County, according to the Georgia State Patrol. One vehicle was heading east on the wrong side of Ga. 166 when it approached two vehicles heading west on the highway in the left lane. The eastbound vehicle hit one of the other vehicles head-on before striking another in the back...
THE LATEST: GBI on scene of officer-involved shooting 
THE LATEST: GBI on scene of officer-involved shooting 

GBI officials are on the scene of an officer-involved shooting in Villa Rica, according to the agency spokeswoman. The shooting happened at 1607 Bankhead Highway, Nelly Miles said in a tweet. That is the address of the Easy Quick Shop, a local convenience store. Details about the shooting have not been released. EXCLUSIVE: Over the Line: Police shootings...
Bragbook for April 27
Bragbook for April 27

Hapeville resident Katherine E. Hancock was named to the Rhodes College Dean’s Listfor the 2017 fall semester. Jackson Lucas of Atlanta, Lindsay McGowan of Roswell, William O’connell of Peachtree City, Daniel Rogers of Douglasville and Taji Steele of Covington were named to the Seton Hall University Fall 2017 Dean’s list. Amber Hirneisen...
More Stories