In Memoriam: Randy Coven

Randy Coven

Rock bassist Randy Coven, who toured and recorded with artists including Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai, passed away on May 20th of undisclosed causes. He was 54.

Born in Great Neck, New York, Coven was introduced to music at a young age. His parents fostered his love of music by taking him to the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium when he was just five years old, and from there his dream was to make music. He started on drums but switched to bass after feeling restricted behind the drum set. According to his biography on the Phil Brodie Band website, Jeff Berlin lived around the corner and overheard him working on a Stanley Clarke song.

“Jeff was actually a neighbor of mine, his younger brother Ross used to beat me up,” Coven admitted. “One day I was sitting in my room desperately trying to learn Vulcan Worlds by Stanley Clarke. My room had a door that opened into the backyard. Jeff was walking by and must of heard me trying to play this thing. He probably felt sorry for me, so he came in and took the time to really show me how this riff was played as well as writing it out on music paper. I couldn’t believe it! He also said he knew and had played with Stanley Clarke. I was blown away. This incident changed my life forever. I decided to go to Berklee to really learn music, especially because I couldn’t read music, and it took me the rest of the summer to learn the damn thing.”

Coven was roommates with guitarist Steve Vai at Berklee, leading to a lifetime friendship. Coven spent the next few years touring with the Canadian band Orpheus before returning to New York and forming his own band. Throughout the 80s and 90s, the bassist worked with musicians ranging from Leslie West to Yngwie Malmsteen to Holy Mother. His more recent projects included the band ARK, MCM, and continuing the Randy Coven Band.

Here’s the Randy Coven Band playing the song “Great Necks” on Canadian TV:

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Randy Coven.

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  1. wow, I’m blown away.
    R.I.P. Randy Coven.

  2. It’s a lesson chase down your dreams you never know when you’re leaving, bless him, I enjoyed his music not knowing him, RIP you music lives on, now your eternal, RESPECT.

  3. Wow… That’s really sad. He was a great musician.

  4. big bassplayer and composer, my respect .

  5. Rest. In peace bass brother.

  6. I first saw Randy at a club during his Funk Me Tender days – and this particular night, Steve Vai joined him on stage. Later on I took lessons from him for a short time… he’s a great, versatile player (with some unfortunate fashion choices back in the day).

  7. R.I.P Randy. He was one of the first of the neo-classical bass players (along with Billy Sheean) that I really really dug. His version of Little Wing still rings in my ears. It is unfortunate that this talent man was not as well know as some of his contemporary low enders.

  8. No fucking way, man!!!! Randy Coven played an extremely huge role in my instrumental rock bassist journey. R.I.P. Respect, Peace & Blessings 2U & Yours, Randy.

  9. rip randy. I’ve seen him play with Orpheus in Montréal in the old montréal… don’t remember the name of the club. it was on the place Jaques Cartier in the late 70. Probably 78

  10. RIP Randy Coven … saw him live with ARK … a very great bass player.

  11. Randy influenced my playing early in my life. I still love playing songs from Funk Me Tender.

  12. So sad to hear. Randy Coven was a big inspiration to me as a beginner on bass. RIP Randy.

  13. R I p randy you were a great influence in my playing and I will continue listening to your music and learn from you. You are one of the greats along with Stanley Clark Victor Wooten bootsy collens. You will be missed. Peace brother of the bass.

  14. I saw Randy many times thru the years… and have a number of his albums. I really connected with his music.


  16. great musician, have a guitar magazine’s BASS SECRETS book and coven recorded the 100 track exercise Cd and also is one of the articles writers along with Billy Sheehan, Tony Scott, Stu Hamm…great tutor and master, thank you

  17. Coven taught me to play bass. I just got a call from his cousin and checked google to make sure it was not a prank and it lead me here. Wow. RIP brother. We had some crazy ass times back in Great Neck.

  18. Oh and BTW it should be mentioned the dude playing guitar with him in that video is Phil X.

  19. I played with Randy once – Had Know Idea what He was playing – soooooo good – RIP Randy

  20. He will be missed . Good job i’ve been playing bass for a long time now. If i had seen this as a beginner i would have become a drummer!

  21. I remember when I first heard Randy’s incredible album “Funk Me Tender.” I was in high school and as a beginning bassist, I was completely blown away at what he was doing on four strings. I’d never heard anything like it and it was inspiring, to say the least. I bought the sheet music for the album and spent the next couple of years working my ass off just so I’d be good enough to be able to play the very simplest of his songs on the record.
    He was the first “bass virtuoso” I discovered and not only would he have a deep and lasting impact on my style, he would redefine what it meant to be a bass badass in my mind for years to come. Rest in piece, Randy, you’ll be missed.

  22. If there’s a rock and roll Heaven then you know they have a hell of a band, Astro

  23. I had the honor of playing with and being friends with Randy for many years he was so nuch fun and always made me laugh it didn’t matter to him if there was a hundred thousand or a hundred people he loved to play. I miss him already its a shame he was too young.

    • David A Becker

      Randy my cousin could belch the alphabet when he was around 11yrs old lol.Granpa was upset because we were in a restaurant at Niagara falls lol.

  24. Rick Shutter

    RIP Randy – what a talent.

  25. i bought an instructional video of randy back in the 90ties and learned alot from it.i still use stuff from that video or something that inspired me from him.yes he was an underrated and not as well known is a shame.thanks for your inspiration on the bass randy

  26. jim

    I was only playing bass for 1yr then I found his funk me tender album.. great bass player and a loss too the low end randy!!

  27. Charles Demetri

    I was just ripping “Funk Me Tender” on my computer at work when I said let me check out what Randy is doing these days when I discovered he had passed away over a year ago. I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear this terrible news. To my ears this man was in the same league as Stanley Clarke, Billy Sheehan, Marcus Miller, Jaco, and Stu Hamm. His CPR and Funk Me Tender albums are some of best hard rock/funk/jazz fusion ever laid to tape. He will be greatly missed. Deepest Condolences to his family. RIP my man.

  28. Steve Siegel

    I grew up with Randy in Great Neck and took bass lessons from him and did a little “hanging”. I knew his younger brother Les well who played guitar in a Basement Band we jammed with. Just want to note that all the articles out there seem to think he was 54 at passing. He was 56 or 57 actually as he was 2-3 years older than me and Les (Randy played bass with my brother. a drummer, in high school as a teen as well). It was sad that all the years I read Bassplayer Magazine, I never saw him in there or an article about him. Then one day I open it up there is a 2 page “centerfold like” pic of him playing announcing his death. Sad that’s how he had to get in the mag. RIP Randy….Steve Siegel