Screaming Trees Bassist Van Conner Dies at 55

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Van Connor, bassist for the grunge era rockers Screaming Trees, has died at the age of 55. The news was delivered by Van’s bandmate and brother, Gary Lee Conner, who had been sharing updates on the musician’s ailing health over the last month.

In sharing the news, Gary Lee wrote, “Van Conner bassist and song writer of Screaming Trees died last night (Jan. 17) of an extended illness at 55. It was pneumonia that got him in the end. He was one of the closest friends I ever had and I loved him immensely. I will miss him forever and ever and ever…”

Earlier in January, Gary Lee had shared that Van had been hospitalized with a liver infection on top of other health issues that had surfaced over the last two years, dating back to late 2021. The bassist had been unable to walk for the better part of a year and was twice in a coma related to an emergency late 2021 stomach surgery.

Conner was one of the founding members of Screaming Trees, forming the band in 1984 alongside guitarist Gary Lee Conner, drummer Mark Pickerel and late frontman Mark Lanegan. Pickerel exited the group in 1991, replaced by Barrett Martin behind the kit and that lineup remained until they called it a career in 2000. Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme also joined the band on guitar for their 1996 touring.

The band released nine album during their tenure, with a tenth, Last Words: The Final Recordings, surfacing in 2011 after they had split. Their 1992 album, Sweet Oblivion, was the first to crack the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 141 while bolstered by the group’s biggest hit, “Nearly Lost You,” which also featured on the Singles soundtrack.

Other radio songs from the band included “Bed of Roses” from the Uncle Anesthesia album, “Dollar Bill” from Sweet Oblivion and “All I Know” off their Dust record.

The group also contributed the song “Darkness, Darkness” to the True Lies soundtrack and covered the title song from the John Lennon tribute album, Working Class Hero.

Outside of Screaming Trees, Van Conner played in the side projects Solomon Grundy and Gardener and also joined the live lineup for Dinosaur Jr. in addition to doing session work for several other bands.

Revisit some of Van Conner’s work with Screaming Trees below.

Screaming Trees, “Nearly Lost You”

Screaming Trees, “Bed of Roses”

Screaming Trees, “All I Know”

Top 30 Grunge Albums of All-Time

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