Col. Bruce Hampton dies hours after 70th birthday celebration at the Fox Theatre

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Col. Bruce Hampton at the start of his 70th birthday show on May 1, 2017, at the Fox Theatre. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

(This post was originally filed at 2:59 a.m. May 1, 2017)

Col. Bruce appeared immersed in the music during his first stage appearance. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Hours after a star-studded birthday celebration at the Fox Theatre Monday night, Col. Bruce Hampton passed away.

Atlanta’s “Granddaddy of the Jam Scene” turned 70 on April 30 and performed at the “Hampton 70” gathering in his honor.

RELATED: Col. Bruce Hampton died surrounded by music

During the show’s encore of “Turn on Your Lovelight,” Hampton collapsed onstage. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he died. No other details are available at this time.

Around 7:50 p.m., Hampton opened the sold-out concert to celebrate his birthday milestone and appeared locked in a groove with his backing band as he sang with his eyes closed and his knee bouncing to the beat.

During the four-hour show, musicians who came to honor his legacy – which included the avant-garde Hampton Grease Band, Aquarium Rescue Unit and The Codetalkers – included Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Popper, Oliver Wood, Dave Schools, Chuck Leavell, guitar prodigy Brandon Niederauer and many other rock and jam band luminaries.

Just before 3 a.m., Trucks and Tedeschi posted a notice on their Facebook page from Hampton’s family, confirming his death.

Hampton, born in Knoxville, Tenn., enjoyed a varied career that ranged from his progressive jazz-rock leanings to appearing in a 2014 video for “Blockbuster Night, Pt. 1” with rap act Run the Jewels.

Hampton was also the subject of a documentary, “Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret.,” that premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival in March 2012.



Earlier this year, AJC freelancer Jon Waterhouse wrote an in-depth profile of Hampton that focused on his weekly residency at the Vista Room in Oak Grove.

In the story, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ frontman Kevn Kinney refers to Hampton as “a legend.”

“People don’t understand how far back he goes,” Kinney said. “He’s just the ultimate showman. He’s our P.T. Barnum. You never know when he’s going to pop out of the jack in the box.”


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