Screaming Trees has lost another one of its members. On Wednesday (Jan. 18), Gary Lee Conner revealed that his brother — with whom he co-founded the band — bassist Van Conner, died Tuesday (Jan. 17) at age 55 after a long illness and pneumonia.
The guitarist shared the news to his personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, alongside a photo of himself posing with his late brother. “Let me put this letter on Van’s grave,” he wrote. “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…”
Screaming Trees also shared Gary’s post to its verified Facebook account.
Van Conner formed Screaming Trees in 1984 with his brother, vocalist Mark Lanegan — who died at age 57 in February 2022 — and drummer Mark Pickerel after connecting in high school over their shared tasted in punk and classic rock music. The following year, the band recorded its first EP, Other Worlds, in their Ellensburg, Wash., hometown. Lanegan’s 2020 memoir, Sing Backwards and Weep, revealed that the EP’s track “Picture in My Mind” was the first song he wrote with the Conner brothers.
By 1986, the group’s first studio set Clairvoyance was released through Velvetone Records and helped the band to secure a recording contract through SST Records, but it wasn’t until 1992 — and the arrival of the Seattle grunge scene — that Screaming Trees started experiencing success on a commercial scale. The band’s 1992 album, Sweet Oblivion, peaked at No. 141 on the all-genre Billboard 200, with singles “Nearly Lost You” and “Dollar Bill” peaking on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Airplay chart at Nos. 12 and 40, respectively.
In Van’s other endeavors, he formed and fronted Solomon Grundy and released an album with the band in 1990. During his tenure in Screaming Trees, he also played alongside Dinosaur Jr. for live shows. Following Screaming Trees’ breakup in 2000, Van formed bands VALIS and Ox, and also did work as a session musician.
See Gary Lee Conner’s announcement below: