Van Conner Obituary, Death – According to a statement on social media made by his brother Gary Lee, Van Conner has passed away. Conner was one of the co-founders of the influential Northwest alternative band Screaming Trees, along with his brother Gary Lee and singer Mark Lanegan. He was 55. According to a message written by his brother, “Van Conner, bassist and song composer for Screaming Trees, passed away last night at the age of 55 after a protracted illness.” “In the end, it was pneumonia that proved fatal for him. He was always one of my closest friends, and I had a tremendous amount of affection for him. I will never, ever, ever get over the fact that he is gone.
In 1984, the brothers alongside Lanegan and drummer Mark Pickerel established The Trees in the rural area of Ellensburg, Washington. Lanegan had passed away the previous year. The band played music that was heavily influenced by psychedelia, and its sound was consistent with that of a number of other independent bands from the same era, in particular the “Paisley Underground” groups from California such as the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate.
After releasing several low-budget recordings on the small Velvetone label, the band signed with the independent titan SST Records and became one of the major groups of the American indie scene of the late ’80s. This scene blossomed into the grunge and alternative movement when fellow Washington State natives Nirvana took off in 1991 (Lanegan and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain were close friends and, unfortunately, as the singer confirmed in his autobiography, drug buddies as well
The Trees acquired a recording contract with the major label Epic Records in 1989 after releasing a string of successful albums on SST, the most notable of which were “Buzz Factory” and “Invisible Lantern.” The band made their debut on a major label in 1991 with the album “Uncle Anesthesia,” which was co-produced by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. However, the band’s career really began to take off in 1992, when their song “Nearly Lost You” was included on the soundtrack of Cameron Crowe’s film “Singles,” which defined the Northwest scene, and the band was picked up for management by the powerhouse Q-Prime, which also managed metal giants Metallica and Queensryche. The band went on to release “Sweet Oblivion,” widely regarded as its finest work, participated in the Lollapalooza tour, and established themselves as one of the most important musical bands of the decade.
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