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Published: 2009/08/20

Ten Years After: Remembering Bobby Sheehan

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Bobby Sheehans untimely passing. The bassist co-founded Blues Traveler in the late 1980s and helped lay the groundwork for the modern jamband scene as his band rose from clubs like Wetlands to arenas and MTV fame. Bob really drove us, John Popper told shortly after Sheehans death. He was the conductor of Blues Traveler. To stop completely is contrary to what Bob would have had us do. We want to continue to play. We’re just going to have to try bass players on and see if there’s something there. See if we can’t continue.
Since Sheehans passing, Blues Traveler has paid tribute to its fallen bandmate both onstage and in the studio. The song Pretty Angry came about immediately following his death, guitarist Chan Kinchla relates. A lot of the original lines came right when John was down in New Orleans helping the Sheehan family clean up the house. He was hanging out with Johnny, (Bobby’s) brother. So it came right after Bobby’s death, which tooks us months and months to put in place on a personal level. We were all at a different place with our feelings with that — me, Brendan and John — although Tad was close with Bob. So that song is kind of hard for us to play because it brings us back to that really hard time. At the same time, I think there’s something really beautiful about it, in that it relates to a lot of things. When we were making that song, we didn’t want it to be a self-serving catharsis just for ourselves but something that other people could relate to for losses that they had themselves. I think on the record, it accomplished that. It’s a bitch for us to play live. It’s tough to put that in a set. The crowd knows full well what it’s about. If you’ve got a rockin’ show, it’s tough to get in and out of that emotional area. So it’s tricky, but I love the way it came out on the record.
The popular Blues Traveler fansite Blues has set up an online tribute to the fallen Blues Traveler bassist. We also encourage you to revisit our own archive of Blues Traveler interviews, including this early reflection on the bassist.

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