Beloved Major League Baseball pitcher Vida Blue passed away on Saturday, May 6th at the age of 73. As the Blue family noted in a statement shared by the Oakland Athletics, with whom Vida won three consecutive World Series titles from 1972–1974, “It is with great sadness that the Blue family mourn the passing of our beloved father Vida Blue. Vida was a great father, grandfather, brother, friend and teammate who will be forever cherished, honored and loved. We appreciate your uplifting prayers as we deal with the overwhelming loss of our father. We ask for respect and privacy during this challenging time.”

While Live For Live Music doesn’t typically cover athletes—however successful and treasured they may be—we have a special place in our hearts for Vida Blue, who served as the namesake for a short-lived jam band featuring keyboardist Page McConnell (Phish), bassist Oteil Burbridge (The Allman Brothers Band), and drummer Russell Batiste (The funky METERS).

Page McConnell formed Vida Blue in 2002 with the blessing of Vida Blue himself. The group released a self-titled album in 2002 and returned in 2003 with The Illustrated Band, recorded alongside Miami’s Grammy-winning Afro-Cuban sextet, Spam Allstars, which frequently accompanied Page, Oteil, and Russell on tour during that time. The Phish keyboardist placed Vida Blue (the band) on the inactive roster following a performance at Bonnaroo 2004, but later revived the outfit (and added guitarist Adam Zimmon to the mix) in 2019 for a new album, Crossing Lines, and a brief run of live shows.

Related: Relive The First Five Years Of Phish With ‘Phish • The Documentary • 1983–1987’ [Watch]

In a post on his social media pages in the wake of the MLB great’s passing, Page McConnell remembered the first and only time Vida Blue attended a Vida Blue concert. Read the full post from Page and watch a clip of him welcoming Blue to the stage on 6/5/04 in San Francisco below. Rest easy, Vida Blue.

 On June 5, 2004, Vida Blue, the pitcher, came down to the Fillmore in San Francisco to meet Vida Blue, the band, and watch our show that night: Vida Blue and the Spam All-Stars. The connection was immediate. He was kind, funny, gracious and incredibly generous, bringing us signed game-worn jerseys and other memorabilia. We invited him onstage to “throw out the first pitch” with some balls he had signed for us. He really enjoyed the show, especially our version of Cisco Kid by War, which was most familiar to him. This was the only time he saw the band, and his appearance was captured on the video we made of a concert that night. And for that I am very grateful.

I first approached Mr. Blue in the late fall of 2001 to ask permission to use his name for the name of the band. We were able to convince Vida that we were a serious band, and I remember thinking that he felt somewhat honored, but also somewhat perplexed by the request. Any skepticism he may have felt was put to rest that night at the Fillmore.

Rest in peace Vida Blue .
Love, Page


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A post shared by Page McConnell (@pagemcconnell)