James Casey, saxophonist for Trey Anastasio Band, died Aug. 28 at age 40 after a two-year battle with colon cancer, his family announced on social media.
“James persevered through his colon cancer battle for two years, and it was the honor of his career to release solo music and perform during that time. James brought joy to everyone around him and his legacy will live on, both through his music and the advocacy work that’s become so integral to him,” the statement reads.
“It was so important to James to help others avoid his fate – to learn the importance of early colon cancer screenings, know your family history, and be an advocate for your own health. When detected early, colon cancer is almost always curable. He shared his diagnosis publicly and illuminated his ongoing battle to raise awareness and help others.”
Casey, born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, attended Berklee College of Music in Boston where he began playing with Soulive and Lettuce. James Casey was born in Washington D.C. His musical family relocated to Phoenix where he was raised. Casey began playing drums at age 3 and began playing saxophone at age 9.
He went on to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston where he pursued a degree in music business. While in Boston he began playing with Soulive and Lettuce, before being asked by Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio to join his solo band.
In addition to TAB, Casey toured with artists including Meghan Trainor and Phil Lesh & Friends.
Casey also earned recording credits with Phish, Lettuce, Chromeo, J.Cole, The Roots, Anderson .Paak, The Jonas Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Sabrina Claudio, Chaka Khan, Wu-Tang, John Legend, Roy Hargrove, Soulive, Talib Kweli, Nigel Hall, Michael Kiwanuka, Melody Gardot, Shawn Mendes, 5th Harmony, Danger Mouse/Karen O, Maceo Parker, Carly Rae Jepsen, Leslie Odom Jr. and others, according to Jambase.
Casey was diagnosed with colon cancer following an appearance with Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s Billy & The Kids at Rocks in July 2021. He underwent surgery and further treatment soon after.
Casey also sang and played keyboard with the Trey Anastasio Band, but missed the group’s fall 2021 tour while undergoing treatment, which was documented in the short film “Music As Medicine.” He also released the EP “A Little Something For Everyone” in December, with proceeds going to help fund color cancer screenings for the uninsured.