You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Neal Casal Eulogized by Bob Weir, Chris Robinson, Ryan Adams, Other Musicians

Tributes to Neal Casal continued to pour in Tuesday as word got of the singer-songwriter-guitarist’s death, with famous friends whose bands he’d served in leading the memorials.

“I can’t believe I’m having to say goodbye to my friend and my brother,” Chris Robinson said in a statement. “It’s almost too painful. When I think about the songs we’ve written, the shows we’ve played and all the laughs and great times we shared, it’s almost unbearable to know you’re gone.”

The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir wrote simply, “My last memory of Neal will be the smile he left me with,” as the caption for a group photo that had him and Casal with arms around each other. The photo was presumably taken Saturday at Virginia’s Lockn’ Festival, where Weir and his late friend shared the stage during a performance by Oteil Burbridge & Friends that turned out to be Casal’s last.

Casal died of suicide at 50. Friends were taken aback, believing he had been in good spirits recently and seemed energized at the festival Saturday, where he also performed with his own band, Circles Around the Sun.

Wrote Shooter Jennings on Instagram, “I am absolutely devastated with the news of the loss of my dear friend and consistent collaborator Neal Casal. He was always my favorite picker in LA and we’d all just finished some beautiful music together. I’m really just hollowed out by this. God bless NC.”

Ryan Adams, whose band the Cardinals had had Casal as lead guitarist, paid tribute on his Facebook page: “Oh man. My heart is broken. It’s too much. What an honor to have known you, true believer. I love you, always. Go easy, brother. Go easy. Through thick and thin your heart was a lighthouse of kindness. Your eyes a mirror to a better world — your soul bled into ever note. I don’t know how to even feel right now. Grateful for your time. But immense loss.” Adams went on to quote from Rutger Hauer’s touching death speech at the end of “Blade Runner.”

A group statement on the Grateful Dead’s Twitter account read: “It’s an unbearable loss, but the love and light that our friend Neal shed on the world is forever.”

Other musicians with whom Casal performed included Willie Nelson, Todd Snider, Phil Lesh, Tift Merritt, Cass McCombs and GospelbeacH.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Neal CasalChris Robinson Brotherhood in concert, Levi's Stadium, California, USA - 24 Feb 2019
CREDIT: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Said Jason Isbell, “Neal Casal was a fantastic musician and a great photographer and a kind, sweet soul. We’ll miss him.”

His bandmate in GospelbeacH and an earlier band, Beachwood Sparks, Brent Rademaker, posted a lengthy remembrance on Facebook.

“When you meet a friend as cool as Neal who is also a musician, it’s a done deal that you’ll end up making music together” Rademaker wrote. “But when I met Neal the first thing he did was offer me the use of his apartment when I was homeless. Like real friends do. That was in the year 2000, and by 2001 he was a member of our group Beachwood Sparks touring the world. Although he was a world-class, highly in-demand studio musician, he sacrificed money and fame to play with us and, later, with The Tyde, and finally we made good on our promise to start a band together. That was GospelbeacH and although his touring commitments to CRB made it hard for him to be around all the time, he made great efforts to play and record when he could. …

“More recently, Neal was slated to be involved in a number of projects for our new Curation Records label including recording a Neal Casal solo album, which makes it even more difficult. Neal was involved in so many musical projects as a producer, player and writer, it was sometimes hard to keep up with it all. I know from talking to him personally that with that many projects comes some pressure, but he was ‘happy to have those kind of problems.’ We will miss him dearly. We are lucky in this difficult time that we’ve got a big family to turn to for support, and that IS because Neal Casal brought us all together.

A video excerpt of Casal’s soloing at his final gig Saturday in Virginia:

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Rob Thomas Sammy Hagar

    Sammy Hagar Joins Rob Thomas for 'Smooth' Performance (Watch)

    Who do you call when your pal Carlos Santana has plans on a Friday night? If you’re Rob Thomas, you recruit another famous friend, rocker Sammy Hagar, who turned up to help the singer close out the latest show of his Chip Tooth Smile tour with a performance of “Smooth” at the Fox Performing Arts [...]

  • US record producer The-Dream arrives for

    Top Music Publishers Come Together for Songs of Hope Honors

    The 15th annual Songs of Hope honors united songwriters, music industry insiders and more than a few preeminent doctors at producer Alex Da Kid’s Sherman Oaks compound on Thursday night. Jimmy Jam returned to host the event, which served as a fundraiser for the ever-vital City of Hope medical treatment center as well as a [...]

  • Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Takes Beatles' 'White Album'

    Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Gets Back to '68 by Touring Beatles' 'White Album'

    The 50th anniversary re-release of 1969’s “Abbey Road” may be just days away, but that doesn’t mean Beatles fans have been there and done that when it comes to celebrating ’68. Todd Rundgren, the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, Badfinger’s Joey Molland and several other name musicians of a certain vintage are teaming up to go out [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content