R.I.P. Todd Nance, Founding Drummer of Widespread Panic

Raffaela Kenny-Cincotta on August 19, 2020
R.I.P. Todd Nance, Founding Drummer of Widespread Panic

Photo by Larry Hulst

Todd Nance – founding drummer of Widespread Panic – has died at the age of 57.

According to a statement from Nance’s family, he passed away in Athens, Ga. “from sudden and unexpectedly severe complications of a chronic illness.”

“With heavy hearts and loving memories we say goodbye to our Brother Todd Alton Nance,” reads an additional message from his former bandmates. “Widespread Panic was born the night of Todd’s first show… For thirty years Todd was the engine of the Widespread Panic. He wrote great songs, and was a giving and forgiving collaborator. T Man was the epitome of a ‘team player.” Drove the band and drove the van. Funny, adventurous, and a very kind soul, we wish Todd and his family peace during the sad time after so many happy times. Safe travels, Brother Todd.”

Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Nance received his first drumkit for Christmas at age of 13 and after forming a high school garage band with Michael Houser, the guitarist enlisted Nance in early 1986 to join what would become Widespread Panic.

Over the next decade, the band rapidly grew beyond their Georgia roots and Nance would provide the backbeat for some of WSP’s most legendary shows.

Most notably, he was present for WSP’s 1998 hometown celebration in Athens, Ga. which drew a crowd of over 100,000. That show was later immortalized in the beloved live record Panic in the Streets.

He also logged time in the Widespread Panic offshoot brute. from 1995 to 2002.

Unfortunately, due to personal struggles – and following a 2014 hiatus – Nance and WSP officially split ways in 2016. He was replaced with current drummer Duane Trucks.

“Basically, I had 31 great years touring with the band,” Nance told Jambands.com at the time of his departure. “I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But, things do change as time goes on.”

After Widespread Panic, the drummer formed Interstellar Boys, featuring Jerry Joseph, Bloodkin’s Daniel Hutchens, Sam Holt, John Neff and Jon Mills. He also toured with his own revolving cast of “Todd Nance and Friends.”

Following the drummer’s passing, a number of his former colleagues remembered his legacy.

“Todd Nance was a sweet man and a great musician,” Jason Isbell posted via Twitter. “So sad to learn of his passing.”

Added Phish’s Trey Anastasio, “So sad to learn of the passing of Todd Nance. I met Todd backstage at the Georgia Theater in Athens 1990, our first southern Phish show. He was kind and welcoming, a powerhouse drummer and a truly nice guy. My heart goes out to Todd’s Family today.”

“Todd had that deep, southern boogie groove. Undeniable and infectious,” wrote North Mississippi Allstars’ Cody Dickinson. “The real deal Holyfield. His signature drumming style influenced so many. His many great performances brought happiness and joy to us all. Todd would always invite me to sit in and play with WSP. I mean ALWAYS. Of all the drummers who have shown me so much love and support all these years, he was the guy who would say, ‘come on Cody, play drums during my solo. Or washboard. Whatever you want.’ Who does that?? Todd Nance. That’s who.”

This story is still developing…