Coda: Founding Widespread Panic Drummer Todd Nance
Todd Nance was just 23 years old when Michael Houser asked him to play a charity event in Athens with Bell’s compatriots John Bell and Dave Schools on February 6, 1986, at The Mad Hatter Ballroom in Athens, Georgia. Although Bell, Houser, and Schools had played a few fraternity parties the previous year, this show would be the first time they would use the name Widespread Panic.
And, for the next 31 years, Todd Nance was the engine that drove the six-headed monster known as Widespread Panic, lovingly abbreviated as WSMFP (you may interpolate). This morning, Nance’s family announced that the drummer, age 57, had died of complications from an ongoing condition.
It is with great sadness that we announce that Todd Nance, a founding member of Widespread Panic, passed away early this morning in Athens, GA from sudden and unexpectedly severe complications of a chronic illness. There are no services being planned at this time, but information will be shared as decisions are made regarding the best way to honor Todd’s extraordinary life and career. The Nance family appreciates the love and support of all and requests that their privacy be honored during this hard time.
From the Widespread Panic Family:
With heavy Hearts and Loving memories we say good bye to our Brother Todd Alton Nance. Widespread Panic was born the night of Todd’s first show. He and Mikey had played music together in High school (maybe Junior high) and with a lucky thought, Michael tracked him down and asked him to join us — because we had a gig, but needed a drummer. 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 this sad time after so many happy times. Safe travels, Brother Todd.
With Love, the Boys and Girls of Widespread Panic
Cody Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, who often sat in with the band, offered this:
“I just can’t believe I am writing these words again, so soon (referring to the death of NMAS’ bass player Carl Dufrene on August 17). Saying goodbye to my dear friend and drumming brother, Todd Nance. Todd had that deep, southern boogie groove. Undeniable and infectious. 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. Love you buddy. Always. God bless and god speed. Lord, please look after Tammy and his family, as well as all of us who loved him so much, during this difficult time. Amen. Cody”
Nance played his last regular show with Widespread Panic 09.14.14 at Phases of the Moon. When the band began their fall tour in North Charleston 10.03.14, drummer Duane Trucks was at kit; Nance announced he was dealing with personal matters. (We caught the band 10.05.14 in St. Augustine.) Trucks stayed in the touring band. Nance did perform at 2016 Panic en la Playa, but thereafter the group named Trucks as the permanent replacement. Nance’s last studio album with the band was Dirty Side Down (2010).
During his tenure with WSP, Nance led a fine group called Barbara Cue and played in brute. with Vic Chesnutt, John Keane, and all of the Panic members. After 2016, Nance put together Interstellar Boys with Jerry Joseph, Daniel Hutchens, Sam Holt, John Neff, and John Mills, and he occasionally played out as Todd Nance and Friends.
Over the dozens and dozens of shows and years that I saw him perform with the band, he continued to knock me out with his playing. Was he the best drummer on the jam scene? Those sorts of rankings are useless. He was my favorite drummer on the scene — because of what he offered and the way he powered the band. I will be forever thankful I got to appreciate his work.
[Feature image from Swampland.com]