In very sad news today, Tony Markellis, longtime bassist for Trey Anastasio’s Band and other bluesy jazz bands out of the northeast including The Unknown Blues Band and Kilimanjaro died at the age of 68 in his sleep Thursday night as reported his nephew’s Facebook page and Twitter.
Tony, “the Meatman,” was an accomplished bass player who was pretty much embodied the human metronome. His unrelenting groove set the standard for “Sand,” “First Tube, “Last Tube,” “Gotta Jibboo” and many other TAB originals that have now become TAB live highlights, along with many songs carrying over to the Phish catalog that Tony helped compose.
Most recently Tony performed with Trey during the Beacon Jam series and was always in top form. The big guy he was, sitting on his stool was relentlessly dedicated to his instrument and was both a fan favorite and pal to all those around him. Anastasio has said on more than one occasion that a major reason he decided to attend the University of Vermont was after seeing Markellis play with the Unknown Blues Band while looking at colleges.
Markellis was born in Helena, Montana, and spent valuable music time in the Ann Arbor, MI area but has spent the last 40- some years in upstate New York near Saratoga. Fittingly enough the last song Markellis performed with TAB was “First Tube” on the final night of last year’s Beacon run. There will never be another Tony Markellis….