Screaming Trees Bassist Van Conner Dead At 55

Screaming Trees Bassist Van Conner Dead At 55

Van Conner, the bassist for grunge-era Washington rock heroes Screaming Trees, has died. His brother and bandmate Gary Lee Conner shared the news on Facebook, writing, “Van Conner bassist and song writer of Screaming Trees died last night 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…” His death comes less than a year after the passing of Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan.

Conner was born in 1967 in Apple Valley, California. As a teenager in Ellensburg, Washington, he formed the band Explosive Generation in 1984 with his brother Gary on guitar and Mark Pickerel on bass. With the addition of Lanegan in 1985, the band became Screaming Trees. The group moved to Seattle and rose to prominence in parallel with the city’s scene at large, recording for the storied indie label SST before making the leap to Epic. Fronted by Lanegan’s unmistakable growl, the band cranked out ragged and anthemic rock songs that made them one of the more underrated bands of their era before breaking up in 2000. Playing bass and contributing significantly to the band’s songwriting, Conner was a key factor in that legacy.

In addition to Screaming Trees, Conner sang and played guitar in the side project Solomon Grundy and briefly became one of J Mascis’ bandmates in the live version of Dinosaur Jr. Later in the ’90s he played with Josh Homme in Gamma Ray, an early version of Queens Of The Stone Age. In addition to session work, his later projects included Gardener, Musk Ox, and VALIS, which also featured his younger brother Patrick Conner.

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