Exclusive: Dark Star Orchestra Bassist Kevin Rosen To Exit

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Dark Star Orchestra bassist Kevin Rosen will be leaving the band, Hidden Track can confirm.

Rosen, who as DSO’s “Phil Lesh” is its longest-tenured current member, has held down bass duties for the beloved Grateful Dead spirit band for more than 2,000 shows. He will sit out the first five shows of DSO’s spring tour, which begins May 9 at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY. He will then return to finish out DSO’s string of May dates, including the Dark Star Jubilee May 24-26, with his last show with the band scheduled for June 1 at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.

[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]

Bassist Skip Vangelas, who has played with DSO guitarist/vocalist Rob Eaton in the band Border Legion and was briefly in DSO himself in 2001, will fill in for Rosen during the first five shows of the May run, May 9-14 in the New York City area.

A representative from Dark Star Orchestra confirmed Rosen’s pending exit and the upcoming schedule to Hidden Track. In a note to Dark Star Orchestra fans and band mates scheduled for posting to DSO’s site Friday and viewed by Hidden Track, Rosen writes the following:

Dear friends,

After all my years of touring with Dark Star Orchestra, I find myself in need of an extended break from life on the road.  In addition, my mother’s declining health makes it even more important to be home at this time.

For the first five shows of our May tour, our good friend, Skip Vengelas will be filling the bass role.  I will be returning for the rest of the tour, culminating with my last performance at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom on June 1.  Please know that I am leaving with a heavy heart.

I would like to thank all of the fans for your support throughout the years.   I would also like to express my gratitude to all the members of the DSO family.   Over the years, you have become my family.  It has been one of the great pleasures of my life to be a part of DSO and I know that I am going to miss it.  I will surely miss my band mates, all of my friends in the audience and the many great people I have met along the way.

Rest assured that the train will keep on rolling and the bass position will be in capable hands for years to come.

May all of your days be good ones!

Peace –

Kevin Rosen

Dark Star Orchestra is expected to announce a permanent replacement for Rosen in time for a fall tour. Meanwhile, Jim Allard, a veteran of bands such as Coral Creek Band, American Beauty, One Kind Favor and Shakedown Street, will take over DSO bass duties starting June 28, through the end of the summer tour.

Rosen first joined DSO as its “Phil” over a four-night stand at Martyrs’ in Chicago in November 1997. DSO will eclipse the 2,200 show mark later this month —  a significant milestone considering the Grateful Dead itself topped out at 2,315 shows over a 30-year run.

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12 thoughts on “Exclusive: Dark Star Orchestra Bassist Kevin Rosen To Exit

  1. Dark Star Crashing Reply

    Roddy Puckett will be playing for All Good

  2. spikenyc Reply

    Wow – too bad.
    Kevin is a great bass player and real nice guy.
    Wish him well.

  3. jmack Reply

    I hear John Paul Jones is available!!

  4. DiNo Reply

    Kevin, you will be dearly missed!

  5. Dr Leonard Rosenblum Reply

    Kevin you have been an inspiring part of the loving community of fellow “Deadheads”. since I first saw you in NYC at the Irving Plaza. Bringing the melodic groove is always a tough challenge that you made joyful. Looking forward to her your next musical adventure.
    Best regards,
    Dr LennyR

  6. Willsawww Reply

    where can I send my audition tape.. Ive got the Phil voice down too!

  7. Steve Sterns Reply

    Skip will be an able fill-in. Knew Rob back in Border Legion days, and loved that band. After Jerry passed, it provided much-needed solace and kick-ass shows. I still have and play many tapes of BL shows. Met a lot of great people there. Good luck to Kevin and to DSO.

  8. Chris Lipper Reply


    You will be missed moving forward and hope that our paths cross again.

    I’ll miss your bombs and rippin Tie Dyes.


  9. cpt Reply

    Damn. You will be missed Kevin. Glad I got to catch some K-Bombs here in the PNW on the run. Keep smiling brother.

  10. theresa Reply

    we will miss you greatly. may god bless your mom

    thank you for many great years!

  11. KW Reply

    see ya at Turning Stone!!

  12. Jim Reply

    Kevin has joined the Chicago-based Grateful Dead tribute Paradise Waits. Check out their events on facebook or ParadiseWaitsBand dot com

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