In Memoriam: Tony Markellis

Tony Markellis
Photo credit: Trey Anastasio

We’re sad today to report that bassist Tony Markellis has passed away of undisclosed causes. He was 68 years old.

Markellis had a forty-seven-year career playing a variety of styles but is best known for playing in Trey Anastasio’s solo projects over the years. The Phish guitarist shared the news on his Facebook page.

“Tony Markellis passed away yesterday. He was a truly remarkable human being. He was kind and had a sweetness to his personality, and he was the baddest bass player I’ve ever heard,” Anastasio wrote. “I loved Tony, and I always will. I’m having a hard time processing this. Tony was the heartbeat to so much of my life, and to the lives of so many others. He played bass for my first dance with Sue at our wedding. We wrote ‘First Tube’ and ‘Sand’ together, and played so many years, so many memories.”

Markellis was born and raised in Montana and attended the University of Michigan. He relocated and played in the Vermont bands Kilimanjaro and the Unknown Blues Band, which would influence Anastasio and Phish.

In addition to his work with Anastasio, Markellis performed on over 100 albums. He also worked with artists like Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, and more.

“I’m comfortable in enough different styles that I thrive on variety,” Markellis said in a 2010 interview. “Adaptability is what it’s all about; the style of playing I might utilize with a thundering five-horn jam band at Bonnaroo is nothing like what I would play in a duo with a songwriter at Caffè Lena. I think what keeps me working is that I’m always aware of the difference.”

Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Tony Markellis.

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