Vince Welnick’s Depression

A deeper probe into the suicide of Vince Welnick, the Grateful Dead’s last keyboard player, reveals a look into how the musician fell into a deep depression after the band broke up following the death of Jerry Garcia.

Having spent a good five years with the Grateful Dead, Welnick’s dream of one day reuniting with the band ended June 2nd when the 55-year-old keyboardist slashed his throat in front of his wife on the property of the couple’s Forestville, Calif., home, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The musician was also a veteran of several other bands, including The Tubes and Missing Man Formation.

The suicide caught some of Welnick’s more casual friends by surprise, but it didn’t shock those affiliated with the Dead.

When Garcia died in August of 1995, the band returned home from a tour and announced they would no longer perform under the Grateful Dead moniker. Only days before departing for the group’s final tour, Welnick received news that he had throat cancer and emphysema. He decided to postpone the surgery until after the tour, the Chronicle said.

After Garcia’s death, Welnick’s world collapsed. That December, shortly before a show with RatDog in Santa Barbara, Calif., Welnick swallowed 57 Valium pills. He survived the suicide attempt but never played with the band again, the paper said.

As time passed, Welnick became obsessed with the Grateful Dead reuniting. He held a grudge against Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann for moving to Hawaii shortly after Garcia’s death, limiting the chance of the group coming back together, according to the Chronicle.

The keyboardist’s problems worsened when all four remaining original members of the Dead reunited at a two-day rock festival at Alpine Valley, Wis., in August 2002. The members of the group reportedly became uncomfortable with Welnick’s obsessive behavior.

Another blow came when members of the Dead and their extended families gathered to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Garcia’s death at Berkeley, Calif.’s Greek Theatre. Welnick was once again excluded.

Welnick’s former bandmates in The Tubes said he was enthusiastic about a planned full-scale reunion tour, but getting back together with the group wasn’t enough. He reportedly brooded over the fate of the Grateful Dead and placed many calls to the Dead’s management.

As recently as a week before he died, Welnick posted a message on his Web site about his continued hopes for a Dead reunion, saying he discussed the issue with band management, the Chronicle said.