Founding Widespread Panic drummer Todd Nance has died at the age of 57. He passed away in Athens, Georgia from “sudden and unexpectedly severe complications of a chronic illness,” according to a statement from Nance’s family.
His former bandmates in Widespread Panic issued a statement today as well. “With heavy hearts and loving memories we say goodbye to our Brother Todd Alton Nance,” it reads. “Widespread Panic was born the night of Todd’s first show… For thirty years Todd was the engine of the Widespread Panic. He wrote great songs, and was a giving and forgiving collaborator. T Man was the epitome of a ‘team player.’ Drove the band and drove the van. Funny, adventurous, and a very kind soul, we wish Todd and his family peace during the sad time after so many happy times. Safe travels, Brother Todd.”
Nance has been a staple of jam music history for 30 years. After getting a drum kit for Christmas as a 13-year-old, he began diligently practicing his instrument and, come high school, formed a garage band with guitarist Michael Houser. In 1986, Houser formally enlisted Nance to join him in Widespread Panic alongside guitarist John Bell and bassist Dave Schools.
Over the course of their career, Nance played on 11 of Widespread Panic’s 12 studio albums. They quickly became a legendary jam band, rising in the ranks alongside staples like Phish and the Grateful Dead for their lengthy songs and freewheeling concerts. In 2016, Nance stepped down from his role within the group to focus on his own music.
In addition to Widespread Panic, Nance performed with Brute, a short-lived side project by Vic Chesnutt and members of Widespread Panic, from 1995 to 2002.
We’d like to send our condolences to Nance’s family, friends, and bandmates during this difficult time. Below, revisit Nance performing with Widespread Panic at the inaugural Bonnaroo in 2002 and at Red Rocks in 2011, as well as with Brute in 1995.