It is with incredibly heavy hearts that we confirm the death of 57-year-old Kofi Burbridge, multi-instrumentalist of Tedeschi Trucks Band, who passed away yesterday. According to the Allman Brothers Band, with whom Kofi sat in over 20 times, he died in Atlanta “following complications surrounding treatment for an ongoing cardiac issue.”
If you were to ever ask bassist Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company, Allman Brothers Band) who his biggest musical influence was, he’d say his brother Kofi. He is the reason Oteil started playing drums, and then bass: to jam with his older brother who displayed immense talent during their childhood. He was said to have “perfect pitch” around the age of seven, which turned into playing keyboards, organ, and the flute for touring bands like Derek Trucks Band and Tedeschi Trucks Band, winning Grammy Awards with both.
Read Oteil Burbridge’s 2013 Tribute To His Big Brother Kofi Burbridge
His musical career, though, of course, routes back to Atlanta with Col. Bruce Hampton. His first-ever band was called Knee-Deep and featured Oteil and drummer Jeff Sipe. The band only lasted about a year but led him to the “Grandaddy of the Jam Scene” during his musical conquest. Kofi later joined Aquarium Rescue Unit, sans Bruce, with Oteil and Sipe, appearing on 1994’s In A Perfect World.
In the 1998, Kofi joined Butch Trucks’ side-project, Frogwings, with Derek Trucks, Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, Count Mbutu, Marc Quiñones, John Herbert, and John Popper.
Kofi officially joined Derek Trucks Band in 1999 and has been making music with the guitarist ever since. He appears on all Derek Trucks Band albums from 2002 through 2010 (seven total), and every Tedeschi Trucks Band album to date (six total). Trucks often cites Kofi as one of the core parts of his bands and credits him with major songwriting roles.
In June of 2017, Kofi suffered a massive heart attack that kept him from the road. He eventually went back on TTB tour, but his health was once again compromised in early January as he wound back up in the hospital due to a “setback”. Renowned keyboardist Gabe Dixon is currently on the road with Tedeschi Trucks Band as a fill-in for Kofi. There has yet to be an announcement about who the permanent replacement will be.
Yesterday, Tedeschi Trucks Band released their latest album, SIGNS, their first record since 2016’s Let Me Get By. The extended period of time between albums is a result of the major losses experienced by the band over the last several years. During the recording process, the group lost several of their mentors: Leon Russell, Col. Bruce Hampton, and Derek Trucks’ uncle and original Allman Brothers Band drummer, Butch Trucks, followed by Gregg Allman later that year.
The 11-track album includes all original songs which were recorded live on two-inch analog tape at their Swamp Raga Studio. TTB brethren Warren Haynes, Oliver Wood, Doyle Bramhall II, and Marc Quiñones also appear on the record.
As the band notes in a press release, “Signs confronts loss, heartbreak, and politically troubled times with a credence and conviction that puts the group’s undying world-class musicianship and collaborative spirit on full display. It’s a genre-defying collection that runs the gamut from uplifting soulful anthems to bittersweet ballads and driving rock and roll.”
In celebration of Kofi Burbridge’s final work, listen to the album below:
Rest in Peace, Kofi Burbridge. There will be few spirits, minds, humor, and talents like yours to follow.