Afghan Whigs guitarist Dave Rosser has died at age 50 following a battle with inoperable colon cancer. The well-respected musician signed on with the long-running Cincinnati-bred alt-rock band led by Greg Dulli in 2014 when they reformed for the Do to the Beast album, on which Rosser performed as part of a trio of guitarists.
“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our friend, brother and inspiration,” the band wrote on their Facebook page on Wednesday (June 28). “Dave Rosser passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by love. Thank you to all who kept him in their hearts. He is forever in ours.”
Following a 16-year break, Rosser stepped into the reformed Whigs lineup after years of playing with singer Greg Dulli in a series of side projects, including The Twilight Singers and The Gutter Twins. The group revealed in October that Rosser was battling cancer, staging three all-star concerts to raise money to cover his medical costs. The special productions of the band’s beloved 1996 Black Love album in New Orleans and Los Angeles featured performances from such Rosser friends and contemporaries as Mark Lanegan, Ani DiFranco, Morning 40 Federation, King James & the Special Men, C.C. Adcock & the Lafayette Marquis, Moby and Carina Round.
At the time, Dulli wrote: “Dave Rosser has been my close friend and bandmate for over a decade now. By doing these shows for him we hope to ease any financial stress he may face as he pursues treatment to combat his illness. 100% of the proceeds from these shows will go to his medical care. I’m hopeful that folks will come out and show their support for Dave who will be performing with us.”
The new Orleans-based Rosser was a versatile guitarist/engineer and producer who contributed to albums by DiFranco, The Internet, James McMurtry, comedian Tim Heidecker and Mike Dillon. Though Rosser was too sick to join the band on the road, he contributed to their most recently released album, May’s In Spades. His outlook appeared positive despite the dire nature of his diagnosis in a May interview with Guitar World magazine.
“I just finished the first six months of chemo and am taking a break,” Rosser said at the time. “I’m feeling pretty good and my spirits are good. I record a lot at the house and have been making a lot of music with friends. I’m staying busy and have purpose. I’ll try to get out and meet the band on a few stops in Europe where they’ll be for a few days.”
None more beautiful. pic.twitter.com/rTEvA4GgkR
— greg dulli (@MrGregDulli) June 28, 2017
At a show at the Apollo Theater in New York in May Dulli paid tribute to Rosser before performing a song from one of their favorite New Orleans bands, Pleasure Club’s “You Want Love.”