In an unfortunate turn of events, Black Tusk bassist Jonathan Athon has passed away. Athon was in a medically induced coma following a serious motorcycle accident this past Friday. He was 32 years old.
Black Tusk has issued the following statement regarding the passing of their fallen bandmate:
“It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that we must tell you that Athon passed away this morning from injuries sustained from his motorcycle accident. Doctors told us that he suffered irreparable brain damage shortly after the accident. He has been in a coma and sustained by life support until now. As per his wishes, we removed Athon from his life support systems and his organs will be donated. His body will be cremated and a memorial is being planned for family and friends in Savannah. He was 32 years old and will be forever missed. Thank you all for your support during this devastating time for us, it would have made him proud.”
Shortly after, Reynold Jaffe from the band’s label home Relapse Records shared the following memory of discovering Black Tusk and first meeting Athon:
“In the winter of 2006, Gordon Conrad and I flew down to Savannah to hang out with Baroness to talk about signing to Relapse. While down there John from Baroness nonchalantly passed me a demo that he had helped put out of new Black Tusk songs. When I got home from our trip, I checked out the demo and it was really good. So the next step for me as a label-guy was to scope out their myspace page. I distinctly remember looking at photos of the band, and seeing this red haired dude with a giant Billy Gibbons beard, covered in tattoos and thinking ‘man, this guy looks tough! I might be scared to put these dudes’ records out because if we mess something up, they look like the absolute last people in the world I’d want to do wrong by’. They came to the office shortly after that to meet, and the hard look that Athon wore on his face in those myspace photos was replaced by the biggest smile metal’s ever seen. And that’s really what’s been singed into my brain for the past 36 hours since I heard that Athon was in a bad wreck on Friday night—my man’s face on stage, with the biggest most genuine smile ever, EVERY time Black Tusk played (and they play a LOT). We should all shed a tear because we’ve tragically lost an amazing guy today. But once the shock wears off, I know that what I’ll remember is a guy who lived his life doing exactly what he loved to do most in this world–tour the world playing in a band he loved with his 2 best friends, having the most infectious fun on stage hundreds of nights a year.
Athon was a founding member of the metal trio (rounded out by Andrew Fidler and Jamie May), who along with bands like Baroness and Kylesa helped ignite Savannah, GA’s sludge metal scene. Our condolences go out to Athon’s family and friends.