Robin Sylvester, longtime bassist of Grateful Dead singer/guitarist Bob Weir‘s side group RatDog, died Saturday.
Sylvester’s passing was first announced by ex-RatDog guitarist Mark Karan on his Facebook page and later confirmed by Jambands.com and Relix.
“I can’t believe what I just heard. Our dear, sweet Robin Sylvester has passed & left us all with a big ol’ hole in our hearts,” Karan wrote. “I’m speechless & gutted.”
No cause of death has been announced, although Sylvester had experienced some serious health issues over the last decade or so, and in 2012, it was announced that he needed a kidney transplant.
The London-born Sylvester joined RatDog in 2003 after founding bassist Rob Wasserman exited the band, and continued to play with the group until they became inactive around 2014.
Weir and his current band Wolf Bros dedicated their concert in Las Vegas on Saturday to Sylvester.
Robin, who was a multi-instrumentalist, started his professional music career during the 1960s with the a cappella chorus the London Boy Singers. During the early 1970s, he played keyboards with the psychedelic band Byzantium.
Sylvester relocated to the U.S. in the mid-1970s, and for a time was a member of a folk-rock band called The Movies that Clive Davis signed to Arista Records.
He also worked with a variety of well-known artists as a session and/or touring musician, including founding Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin, Mary Wells, The Shirelles, The Drifters, Billy Preston, Christine McVie, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Freddy Fender and Del Shannon.
In the late 1990s, Sylvester was among the musicians who took part in ex-Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick‘s Missing Man Formation project.
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