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Guitarist Neal Casal Dead at 50

Guitarist Neal Casal -- who played with Willie Nelson, Chris Robinson and others -- has died at age 50

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    Guitarist Neal Casal Dead at 50
    Connie Bolger
    Neal Casal, pictured here performing in San Diego in 2017 with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, has sadly died at age 50.

    Folk/roots-rock guitarist Neal Casal has died at the age of 50. A post on his Facebook page confirmed the sad news:

    "It’s with great sadness that we tell you our brother Neal Casal has passed away. 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." 

    Casal, who released several acclaimed solo albums beginning in 1995, was a prolific musician and record producer throughout his lengthy career. A long-time fan of the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones, he performed as a member of several bands including Circles Around the Sun, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, the Hard Working Americans and others.

    An in-demand session player, he also played on a number of records by Willie Nelson, Shooter Jennings, Lucinda Williams, Amanda Shires and Tift Merritt (among others).

    Casal's body was found in his apartment on the evening of Monday, Aug. 26. A cause of death has not been revealed at the time of this article's publication.

    Tributes have poured in from the music world. In a statement, longtime collaborator Chris Robinson wrote: “I can’t believe I’m having to say goodbye to my friend and my brother. It’s almost too painful. When I think about the songs we’ve written, the shows we’ve played and all the laughs and great times we shared it’s almost unbearable to know you’re gone. All of us in this rock & roll life have had to say goodbye to too many people too soon. I can only wish that you’ve found your peace returning to the wisdom of the universe. I miss you so much already, Neal. I’ll see you again, someday past the sunset.”

    In a 2018 interview with Live and Listen, Casal reflected on years of music and life on the road.

    “Mine hasn’t really been a rock star life,” the guitarist said. “Granted, I’ve gotten to travel the world and see a lot of things that other people haven’t. Some of the other life building events that people go through… I haven’t had some of those things. It gets harder as you get older. I’ve definitely had an amazing life in music. That’s for sure. I’ve got to make so many records, tour, take photographers, write songs, meet new friends, and all of that.”