Screaming Trees Bassist Dead at 55: Van Conner’s Cause of Death Revealed | Latin Post
By BERT HOOVER First Published: Jan 19, 2023 4:56 a.m. EST
Van Conner, bassist and founding member of alternative rock band Screaming Trees, has died aged 55. Gary Lee Conner, brother and teammate of Van Conner, broke the news on social media on Wednesday.
“Screaming Trees bassist and songwriter Van Conner died last night of a long illness at age 55,” he wrote, adding Van Conner’s cause of death was pneumonia.
“He was one of the closest friends I’ve ever had, and I loved him dearly. I will miss him forever and ever,” he added.
Van Conner, born in Apple Valley, Calif., but raised in Ellensburg, Washington, started the band Explosive Generation with his brother as guitarist and Mark Pickerel as drummer, during their senior year of high school, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
The band soon added vocalist Mark Lanegan and renamed themselves Screaming Trees. With their unique blend of hard rock and neo-psychedelia, bands like Melvins, Mudhoney and Green River can all trace their musical ancestry to the quintet, who released several albums on independent labels in the late 80s.
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Van Conner and the Howling Trees
The Screaming Trees’ debut EP, “Other Worlds,” was recorded in their hometown of Ellensburg, Washington, in 1985, while their studio, “Clairvoyance,” was recorded in 1986, according to Billboard.
It will be some time before Screaming Trees becomes a mainstream success. The group debuted on the Billboard charts in 1992 when Seattle’s grunge subculture began to gain popularity.
Their album “Sweet Oblivion” peaked at number 141 on the Billboard 200, which includes sales across all genres. Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Airplay also scored success for its hits “Nearly Lost You” and “Dollar Bill,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Dust”, released in 1996, was their most commercially successful effort. On the Billboard 200, this album peaked at position #134. “Last Words: The Final Recordings” was released 11 years after the band broke up in 2000.
Van Conner after shouting from the trees
Unfortunately for the Conners, Mark Lanegan’s drug addiction, which he began to indulge in after the band’s initial success, compounded by growing conflicts, ultimately derailed their careers for the rest of the decade.
During this period of inactivity, Van Conner played in his band, Solomon Grundy, which released an album of the same name in 1990, and a touring line-up of Dinosaur Jr.
Screaming Trees’ “Dust” was well received and earned the band a spot on the Lollapalooza in 1996. “, which led to their official breakup in 2000. They launched their final tour the same year before going their separate ways.
Prior to his death in 2022, Lanegan made it clear he was not interested in a Screaming Trees return, according to Rolling Stone. For the past two decades, Van has played with his brother Patrick Conner in the band Valis and worked as a session musician.
In 2018, Van released an album under his name called “Coming Back Again”, which is more acoustic and slower than his work with Screaming Trees. In a 1996 interview with Billboard, Van Conner discussed the impact of music on his life, both as a creator and a consumer. When traveling, “music keeps me going mentally — especially on the road,” he noted.
“You can get lost in records. It might sound corny, but that’s why it’s worth sticking around as a band; if your music can help a single person transcend their situation or reflect on their state of spirit,” he added.
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This article belongs to Latin Post.
Written by: Bert Hoover
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