Rob Wasserman, the versatile, Grammy-winning bassist, composer and producer who worked with an impressive array of artists, from Lou Reed, Rickie Lee Jones, Elvis Costello, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir in the project RatDog, has died after a battle with undisclosed health complaints. He was 64.
A classical trained violinist (he studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music), Wasserman took up the upright bass at age 20. He collected early experience performing with the likes of Van Morrison and Oingo Boingo and formed a band with David Grisman.
As his reputation grew, Wasserman, who hailed from northern California, entered long-term working relationships with the likes of Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, and Weir, with whom he created RatDog in the mid-’90s following the Grateful Dead’s split in 1995.
Wasserman’s 1983 debut Solo was a critical success. His second, Duets, connected the singer with seven diverse singers and went on to earn three Grammy Award nominations, winning the Best Jazz Vocal Grammy for “Brothers” (with Bobby McFerrin). The artist also scooped Holland’s Edison Award for Record of the Year.
Wasserman’s last album, the six-CD set Fall 1989: The Long Island Sound, with Jerry Garcia Band and Weir, dropped in December 2013.
Weir had posted that Wasserman was suffering with ill health earlier Wednesday, “My great friend Rob Wasserman is facing a serious health struggle today. Please share the strength of our family with him and his family,” he tweeted.
Two hours later, Weir followed up with the message, “One of the world’s most beautiful friends and artists has left us. May Rob’s warmth and music live in your hearts as it always has in mine.”
Wasserman leaves behind his wife Veronica, daughter Sara, sister Cindy and brother Bruce