Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Phil Lesh on his friend, Vince Welnick

Phil Lesh comments about Vince Welnick (who died on June 2 - see "The Dead's Vince Welnick - 1951-2006") at his Phil Zone website:

"The period after Brent’s death, when Vince first joined the band, was one of one of my most difficult years with the Grateful Dead. Jill [Phil's wife] and I had become quite close to Brent [Mydland] and his wife Lisa and we spent many happy hours hanging together. I was devastated when Brent died [in 1990], and I still wonder if there was anything I could have said or done to help him.

"In hindsight, it would have been better for everyone concerned, especially Jerry [Garcia], if after Brent’s passing we had simply cancelled the fall 1990 tours; we needed some time to mourn Brent. Grateful Dead Production's huge monthly overhead kept us from taking time to absorb our loss.

"Vince helped us more than he knew; not only the speed with which he learned the music, but also that he took to the music and the scene like a kid at the beach. His energy and enthusiasm helped rekindle our own excitement with the music - at least it did for me.

"Vince was a generous spirit and a class act. I’ll never forget his first gig as our sole keyboard (Bruce Hornsby having moved on) - as we walked out on stage, some folks in the audience on Vince’s side of the stage were holding up a big sign which read 'Hey Vinnie- Welcome, Brother' - which almost moved me to tears, not least because of the contrast to Brent’s reception 11 years earlier. I was so glad that the Heads had accepted Vince that quickly.

"After Jerry’s death when I started up Phil Lesh & Friends as a band, Vince was one of my first 'Friends,' and we played a goofy, glorious, fun gig at the Fillmore. We tried to get together again later that year, but he had other commitments. I have nothing but warm memories of Vince and I am forever thankful for the grace and enthusiasm that he brought to the Grateful Dead.

"I will remember Vince as a man with a soft voice and a sweet smile who openly adored his wife Lori, who came into the Grateful Dead with the utmost respect for the band, the music - and most of all - the fans."

Phil & Friends will be performing on Sunday, June 19 at Bonnaroo.


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