Skip to main content

Survivor’s Stephan Ellis, bassist on Eye Of The Tiger, has died

Stephan Ellis (far-left) performs with Survivor in 1982 (Image credit: Ron Wolfson/Michael Ochs Archives - Getty)

Survivor band member Stephan Ellis, who played bass on the group’s biggest hits, including Eye Of The Tiger, has died.

Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan broke the news on the band’s Facebook page, stating: “We are devastated to hear that Stephan Ellis has passed away.

“Steph was the guy who was only interested in the music. He absolutely had a special charm with the fans and within the band. I loved much when it came to Steph.

“What I remember most and clearly recall is the day when we cut Keep It Right Here. The bass part and lines in the intro just folded into the mix and it was the bass part that inspired me to reach higher on my guitar. We cut our tracks together, live in the studio. Steph’s runs on the neck of that blue bass are as memorable as the song itself.

“The guitar player/bass player vibe has been around for a long time and Stephan and I had our thing as well. We fed off each other a lot and I think it was simply his calm ways that not only presented him to me in the beginning, it was also Steph’s calm ways that often helped most.

“We can talk for years about how much he’d cause us to laugh and most importantly to a rock ’n’ roll band at that time, the infamous ‘ice’ lesson he passed on to us all one day that stuck for a long while.

Stephan was well-coifed, always ready and Stephan Ellis lived his own life in his own way and on his own terms

“This was Stephan Ellis to me: Underrated yet never dated. Well dressed and on a consistent basis. Gargoyles and all and he was cool enough to pull off. Stephan was well-coifed, always ready and Stephan Ellis lived his own life in his own way and on his own terms.”

Ellis joined Survivor in 1981, appearing on the album Premonition, followed by 1982 smash Eye Of The Tiger, famed for its title track’s appearance in the Rocky franchise.

The bassist left in 1988 during pre-production for seventh album Too Hot To Sleep, but rejoined in 1996, before leaving again in 1999 and returning for a number of live shows in 2005.

We're the UK's only print publication devoted to bass guitar.
Subscribe for star interviews, essential gear reviews and killer tuition!