Andy Goessling, multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of Railroad Earth, has passed away. The band confirmed the news this evening via Facebook.
“Friends we come with heavy hearts and the sad news that our brother Andy has passed,” the statement reads. “He was truly one of a kind – a brilliant musician, and a better person. It was a privilege to share this journey with him, and through his music he touched many lives. There’s simply too much to feel right now, words are hard to find, and we’ll have more to say in time.”
Goessling, who began playing music from a young age, helped found the New Jersey–based bluegrass outfit in 2001 along with From Good Homes guitarist and songwriter Todd Sheaffer and the original Railroad Earth lineup of violinist Tim Carbone, mandolinist John Skehan, drummerCarey Harmon and bassist Dave Von Dollen. Goessling was known for playing a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, saxophone and dobro, among others.
“Andy Goessling was a musical genius,” bandmate Andrew Altman writes in a post on his own Facebook page. “I’ve always hesitated to describe anyone in those terms but not him. Calling someone a genius implies something given not created. A gift. Something handed from beyond. 99.9% of artists are born with a love of expression and love for whatever form moves them but little else in terms of tools for creating. We all come into this world the same; screaming and unformed. The tools we use to express ourselves are forged over time and it took me a few years to see that Andy was rare. The .1%. Most people spend their lives trying to be a great soloist on one instrument and he did it on many. Most people have never even heard of the Zither…he owned piles of them.”
No cause of death has been confirmed at this time. Starting in May of 2017, Railroad Earth announced that Goessling would be undergoing medical treatment and would miss some of the band’s shows. Goessling also recently sat out RRE gigs late this summer.
“I lost one of my best friends this morning,” writes Carbone. “RIP Andy Goessling. There are no adequate words to express my grief. It is incalculable the amount of knowledge you’ve imparted to me or the mountain of inspiration you have given me. It was an honor to play, create and share music with you. We had a great run brother. 40 years of laughs, tears, love and music. I am blessed to have known you. We grew up in a Greyhound bus together. Travel gently to the other side.”
“The genius label can also be awkward because sometimes it’s used to excuse eccentric, rude, or even abusive behavior. Andy was the antithesis of these things,” continues Altman in his note. “He was the glue that held our sound together musically but his unflappable personality is something no band can survive without. Art thrives on emotion and artists deliver it in spades. That’s great on stage, in words, and in melody but trying to do business, that bane of an artists existence, it can easily turn a conversation into a cage match. Andy was a grounding force. The ground is gone now and I only see sky. The place we look when we think of the divine. The beyond. A place that I thought had little hand in the journey from screaming and unformed to coherent and complete. Thank you Andy for changing my mind. I love you. I miss you.”