Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Welnick started playing keyboards as a teenager. He joined a band, The Beans, which eventually morphed into The Tubes, a San Francisco-based theater rock band popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s and noted for early live performances that combined lewd quasi-pornography with wild satires of media, consumerism and politics.
The Tubes in the 1980s were a major commercial rock act with substantial MTV success. Videos for rock classics "Talk To Ya Later" and "She's A Beauty" played in heavy rotation on the MTV network for years in the mid-1980s. While playing in the Tubes, he also played and recorded with Todd Rundgren.
When the Grateful Dead's keyboardist, Brent Mydland, died of a drug overdose on 26 July 1990, the band began auditioning players to replace him, including Ian McLagan, Pete Sears and T Lavitz. Welnick was selected, not least for his high vocal range for backup harmonies. His AP obituary mentioned he was so nervous at his first gig with the band in 1990 in Cleveland that he could barely play, until the fans put him at ease. They held up banners reading, "Yo Vinnie," which Welnick later decided to use as the name of his BMI-affiiated publishing company, Yo Vinnie Music, once obtaining his writer and publisher rights back from Ice Nine Publishing, which had copyrighted his works without an agreement in place to do so shortly after Vince joined Grateful Dead. Bruce Hornsby also supplemented Welnick on grand piano for over 100 shows in Welnick's first years in the Dead. Welnick remained as a member of Grateful Dead and the band's keyboard player until Jerry Garcia's death in August 1995, when the group disbanded.
Vince became very depressed following a diagnosis of cancer and emphysema shortly before the final Grateful Dead tour. Without any publicity about his illness, he decided to do the summer 1995 Grateful Dead tour, and wait to have surgery after it ended. Shortly after the tour was over, Jerry Garcia died. Welnick joined Bob Weir's new group Ratdog as the keyboard player, touring with them around the USA. He attempted suicide about six months after Garcia's death on the Rat Dog tour bus on the drive to Monterey, CA. Following intense therapy, successful treatment of his cancer, and management of the early stages of his lung disease, he became involved in solo efforts, including Second Sight with Bob Bralove and Missing Man Formation, which released a critically acclaimed single album on Grateful Dead Records which included "Golden Days", a tribute to Jerry Garcia. He was a key member of the second ever Phil Lesh and Friends show in March 1998, and toured the USA with the Mickey Hart Band later that year.
In 2002 Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh regrouped under the name The Other Ones. Their reuniting for a concert billed as the "Grateful Dead Family Reunion" with the "Surviving Members of Grateful Dead" without Welnick deeply troubled him, according to musician and publisher, Mike Lawson, his close friend who also oversees Welnick's website. As a "surviving member of Grateful Dead" himself, Vince couldn't personally come to terms with how he could be completely left out of a "family reunion" and took this apparent shunning very hard. He worked hard to try to move on musically, and continued to work on personal music projects, toured with various backup jam-bands around the country, while writing and recording both solo in his home studio and with friends on a variety of projects. He completed several tracks with a group called Mood Food, including a reggae arrangement of "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees. He left behind hundreds of hours of unreleased materials, both personal and professional recordings.
In 1994, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead.
Read more about this topic: Vince Welnick
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