Neal Casal, the veteran singer-songwriter and guitarist who played with the likes of Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams, Phil Lesh and Shooter Jennings, has died at the age of 50. According to a report on Pitchfork, he died by suicide on Monday.
News of his death was shared Tuesday morning across his social media accounts. “It’s with great sadness that we tell you our brother Neal Casal has passed away,” the statement begins. “As so many of you know, Neal was a gentle, introspective, deeply soulful human being who lived his life through artistry and kindness. His family, friends and fans will always remember him for the light that he brought to the world. Rest easy Neal, we love you.”
A titan of the folk and American music genres, Casal was perhaps best known as a member of the Cardinals, who backed Ryan Adams, from 2005 until the group’s hiatus in 2009. He also played in Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson’s group, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, the Jayhawks, the Hard Working Americans and the Skiffle Players — the latter of which featured Cass McCombs several members of the band Beachwood Sparks
He also was a prolific solo artist, releasing music under his own name as through the band he founded, Circles Around the Sun.
Inspired by the music of the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead as a teen growing up in New Jersey, Casal first began playing with Florida-based rockers Blackfoot in the late ’80s before releasing his solo debut, Fade Away Diamond Time, in 1995.
In addition to his stints in the aforementioned outfits, he was also an in-demand session musician, performing on records artists including Nelson, Jennings, Lucinda Williams, Chuck D and Fruit Bats, Amanda Shires and Tift Merritt.
He last performed over the weekend at the LOCKN’ Festival in Virginia as a member of the one-off supergroup Oteil & Friends, which also included Bob Weir, Devon Allman, and Duane Betts.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Jennings paid tribute to Casal with a post on Instagram.
“I am absolutely devastated with the news of the loss of my dear friend and consistent collaborator,” he captioned a black and white photo of Casal. “He was always my favorite picker in LA and we’d all just finished some beautiful music together. I’m really just hollowed out by this. God bless NC.”