The alt-rock world pays tribute to Van Conner, Screaming Trees bassist who has died, aged 55

Van Conner Screaming Trees
(Image credit: Gie Knaeps/Getty)

The bassist and founding member of influential grunge band Screaming Trees has died, aged 55, his brother Gary Lee Conner, the band's guitarist has confirmed.

"Van Conner, bassist and songwriter of Screaming Trees, died last night of an extended illness at 55," Gary Lee posted. 

"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."

Luminaries of the alt-rock world were quick to pay tribute last night, just under a year since Mark Lanegan, the band's charismatic lead singer also passed away.

Matt Cameron, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden drummer commented on Gary Lee's post, "So sorry for your loss Gary".

"Let us lower the flannel flag to half-mast, while we celebrate the life of my dear friend and bandmate, Van Conner, who crossed over to the other side, early this AM," Mark Pickerel, Screaming Trees' original drummer wrote on twitter. "Hearts are heavy, as we're just a year shy of the anniversary of fellow member - Mark Lanegan's untimely departure."

Dinosaur Jr.'s social accounts added to the tributes: "We will miss Van Conner, shit. I’m gonna listen to his LP. I suggest you do the same, and think about what an awesome person he was."

Van Conner was born in California in 1967, and formed Explosive Generation, the band that would evolve into Screaming Trees with brother Gary Lee and Drummer Mark Pickerill in high school. Mark Lanegan joined the line-up in 1985.

Debut LP Clairvoyance sold better than expected - 2500 copies - and the band were snapped up by SST for their sophomore album, Even If and Especially When, but it was when the band moved to Seattle and signed with Epic that the Trees' career shifted up a gear with fifth album, Buzz Factory, before peaking with Sweet Oblivion in 1992, and 1996’s Dust. 

While Screaming Trees never achieved the kind of fame the grunge scene bestowed on the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, they remained an influential presence throughout.

The band's final album was 2011's Last Words: The Final Recordings. The LP was actually recorded in 1998 and 1999, but shelved as the band split in 2000. 

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.