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Cause of Death for Van Conner Co-founder of bassist of Screaming Trees

Van Conner, co-founder and bassist of Screaming Trees, dead at 55

Cause of Death for Van Conner Co-founder of bassist of Screaming Trees.

 

Van Conner, co-founder and bassist of Screaming Trees, dead at 55.

Van Conner, co-founder and bassist of the Pacific Northwest band Screaming Trees, died Tuesday. He was 55.

His brother, Gary Lee Conner, took to Facebook Wednesday to announce the musician’s death, which he said was from pneumonia.

“Van Conner, bassist and songwriter of Screaming Trees, died last night of an extended illness at 55,” wrote Gary Lee, the guitarist of now-defunct Screaming Trees. “It was pneumonia that got him in the end.”

“He was one of the closest friends I ever had and I loved him immensely,” he continued. “I will miss him forever and ever and ever.”

The Conner brothers grew up surrounded by punk rock, spending “every spare cent” on music records, Louder reported last year. Van revealed it was Black Flag’s “Damaged” that turned him onto music.

The Screaming Trees portrait
Screaming Trees rose to punk rock fame in the Washington state grunge scene.
Getty Images

The pair formed a group with drummer Mark Pickerel, but found themselves unable to find a gig in their hometown of Ellensburg, Washington, about 100 miles from the booming music hub of Seattle.

At the time, the Conners’ parents lent them money for their first, self-made album, “Clairvoyance,” which sold 2,500 copies at the time. It wasn’t until they signed with Epic Records in 1990 that they made it to the big leagues.

Screaming Trees helped establish the region as the grunge capital, alongside Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam.

Founded in the mid-1980s, the band went from shelling a few indie albums to rocking with the best punk luminaries once the grunge scene picked up speed in Washington.

“The most striking thing about the music scene in the area at the time is that there was an odd lack of competitiveness,” Gary Lee told Sonic News. “There was no resentment when a band was picked up, seemingly at random, by a major label — in fact, more likely it was viewed with odd amusement.”

Van Conner plays a concert at Waterloo Village in New Jersey on July 8, 1993.
Conner playing a concert at Waterloo Village in New Jersey on July 8, 1993
WireImage

While their first album with Epic flopped, their next one (and sixth album overall), 1992’s “Sweet Oblivion,” brought them notoriety. It included one of their most well-known tracks, “Nearly Lost You,” which climbed to fifth place on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart and landed 12th on the Mainstream Rock Tracks hits list. The song’s success allowed the album itself to sit at No. 4 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.

The band — composed of Gary Lee on guitar, Pickerel on drums and frontman Mark Lanegan, who died last year at 57 — followed up that album with “Dust” in 1996, which included the group’s one mainstream single, “All I Know.”

Van Conner selfie
Following the band’s split in 2000, Conner went on to work on other musical ventures.
Facebook/Screaming Trees

After that album, the band took an extended hiatus in the late ’90s. Despite recording songs for a 1999 album, the group was dropped by their record label — and no one else was willing to bite.

The songs were eventually released in 2011 on the post-split album “Last Words: The Final Recordings.”

In June 2000, they played their final show at the opening of the Experience Music Project, now known as the Museum of Pop Culture, in Seattle.

Van eventually moved on to other musical projects, including his bands Gardener and Valis.

 

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