Photo by Neal Casal.
Bassist Chris Feinstein has passed away. While details remain scant, it is believed he passed away at his Manhattan home in the early hours of Monday morning. He was 42.
Feinstein was most recently known for his role in Ryan Adams & The Cardinals which he joined in 2006, replacing original bassist Catherine Popper. As a member of the Cardinals, Feinstein appeared on Adams’ releases Easy Tiger, Follow the Lights and Cardinology. It was Adams who dubbed Feinstein “Space Wolf.”
Feinstein and longtime Adams’ drummer Brad Pemberton had played in bands together since attending high school in Nashville. However, according to a blog of Adams’ from August 2008, “Catherine introduced me to Space Wolf and that is the kind gal she is.”
Adams went on: “It’s amazing to play with Space Wolf now—and you know, feel the connections and how they line up so strangely horizontal and low—he hangs below Brad in this fog—this deep, deep fog and then BLAST… his school is so outer-space/Hawkwind-Geezer Butler-Lemmy-K. Gordon.”
Cardinals guitarist Neal Casal, in an interview for a Relix December/January 2009 cover story on the band, felt that “Once we got Chris it really just solidified [the band]. It really just became the perfect lineup.” Casal said that part of the reason Feinstein was an ideal fit was that he didn’t find Adams’ live performances intimidating.
“[Adams] will pull out songs you’ve never even heard, live, in front of a large audience of people and you have to go with it and play that song in the moment as it’s happening and take that chance,” Casal relayed. “The wrong kind of person would become completely unglued in that kind of situation. I’m cool with it, I actually enjoy it. Jon and Brad were there before me, they’re used to it, and they’re up for that challenge. Feinstein, he said, was perfect “because he’s up for that, too.”
A key part of the Cardinals’ live show, Feinstein also sang backup vocals and frequently bantered onstage with Adams, who regularly sang “Happy Birthday” to the bassist as party of his stage shtick. Adams left the Cardinals earlier this year. The remaining members of the Cardinals—minus Feinstein—recently completed a tour with New Zealand singer Gin Wigmore. The members of the Cardinals, including Feinstein, appear on Wigmore’s recent album Holy Smoke.
Before joining the Cardinals Feinstein recorded with Jack Ingram and Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., among others. He also appears on and served as a producer on the I am Sam soundtrack.
Tributes from friends and fellow musicians are growing. A particularly nice one can be found here. Also a heartfelt post from a close friend can be found here