Todd Nance, the founding drummer for beloved jam band Widespread Panic, died on Wednesday (Aug. 19) at age 57 due to “sudden and unexpectedly severe complications of a chronic illness.”
Nance’s family confirmed his passing in a statement posted on the band’s socials, reporting that Nance died in Athens, Georgia, and that no services were planned at this time, but that information will be shared at a later date about the best way to honor his life. No cause of death had been revealed at press time.
“With heavy Hearts and Loving memories we say good bye to our Brother Todd Alton Nance,” the band wrote in a statement that described how the nucleus of the band was formed the night Nance and founding guitarist Michael Houser first played together as teens.
“Widespread Panic was born the night of Todd’s first show. He and Mikey had played music together in High school (maybe Junior high) and with a lucky thought, Michael tracked him down and asked him to join us – because we had a gig, but needed a drummer. For thirty years Todd was the engine of the Widespread Panic. He wrote great songs, and was a giving and forgiving collaborator. T Man was the epitome of a ‘team player.’ Drove the Band and drove the van. Funny, adventurous, and a very kind Soul, we wish Todd and his Family peace during this sad time after so many happy times.”
The Athens-bred group was formed in 1981 after Houser met guitarist/singer John Bell in college, with Houser bringing in his old high school buddy Nance to join in 1986. Like contemporaries such as Phish, WP toured heavily in college town, earning a reputation for their improvisational skills. In 2014, after endless tours and 11 albums, Nance left the band due to personal matters, replaced by Duane Trucks.
He rejoined for a few more shows in early 2016, but shortly after the band announced that he was leaving permanently and that Trucks would be his permanent replacement. Nance was born on Nov. 20, 1962 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and in addition to playing and recording with WP, he was a member of the off-shoot group Brute., which featured the majority of WP and late singer Vic Chesnutt; the collective released two full-length albums. Nance was also a member of the group Barbara Cue, which released three studio albums.
Phish singer/guitarist Trey Anastasio posted a remembrance, recalling the first time they met backstage at the Georgia Theater in 1990 at Phish’s first Southern show. “He was kind and welcoming, a powerhouse drummer and a truly nice guy,” Anastasio wrote.
See tributes to Nance below.
So sad to learn of the passing of Todd Nance. I met Todd backstage at the Georgia Theater in Athens 1990, our first southern Phish show. He was kind and welcoming, a powerhouse drummer and a truly nice guy. My heart goes out to Todd’s Family today. Photo via WSP pic.twitter.com/KE9QI9lXGk
— Trey Anastasio (@treyanastasio) August 19, 2020
Todd Nance was a sweet man and a great musician. So sad to learn of his passing. Thinking of y’all, @WidespreadPanic. Love you folks.
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) August 19, 2020
RIP Todd Nance pic.twitter.com/diQcf7ojpM
— 40 Watt Club (@40WattAthens) August 19, 2020
Athens, Georgia, has a wealth of world-class musicians. One of those players was Todd Nance. His playing was a powerful, dynamic, and steady foundation for some stunning performances by @WidespreadPanic , and for countless other projects. Rest easy.
— Payton Bradford (@paytonmbradford) August 19, 2020