The grunge world lost a good one today. Van Conner, bassist and co-founder of Seattle's Screaming Trees, has died. He was 55. The news was shared in a Facebook post by Conner's brother and Screaming Trees bandmate, Gary Lee, who confirmed that the cause of death was pneumonia.
"Let me put this letter on Van's grave," Gary Lee 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."
Conner co-founded the Screaming Trees in 1984 alongside guitarist Gary Lee, drummer Mark Pickerel and vocalist Mark Lanegan, who died last year. The band were essential trailblazers of the Seattle grunge movement, releasing albums on SST Records throughout the Eighties and eventually seeing mainstream success with their 1992 album, Sweet Oblivion, released on Epic.
However, the band's chaotic lifestyles and behind-the-scenes personality clashes — chronicled in detail in books like Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge — contributed to them never seeing the same level of commercial domination as their peers in Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
Nevertheless, the Screaming Trees are an essential part of grunge's history, and Conner's bass playing on their first seven records will live on forever. R.I.P.