Widespread Panic Drummer Todd Nance Dies Unexpectedly

Founding drummer of the Athens, Georgia-based Southern Rock and jam band experience Widespread Panic has passed away. Todd Nance died at the age of 57 in Athens it was announced on Wednesday (8-19) due to sudden and unexpected severe complications of a chronic illness, according to Nance’s family.

“With heavy hearts and loving memories we say goodbye to our Brother Todd Alton Nance,” reads a message from the band. “Widespread Panic was born the night of Todd’s first show… 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 the sad time after so many happy times. Safe travels, Brother Todd.”

Todd Nance left the band in 2016 due to personal issues, and after they took an extended hiatus in 2014, but otherwise was with the band every step of the way, first playing drums with original Widespread Panic lead guitarist Michael Houser in a high school garage band that would eventually morph into Widespread Panic proper. Nance was replaced in the band by Duane Trucks, whose uncle is Butch Trucks of Allman Brothers Band fame.

Born on November 20, 1962 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Todd started out playing guitar, but fell in love with drums after receiving a set at Christmas in 1975. His first live concert was Lynyrd Skynyrd, and following high school, he moved to Athens, GA to reconnect with Michael Houser who had been playing with fellow Widespread Panic founders John Bell and Dave Schools. The band played their first show as a four piece in February of 1986.

Todd Nance played drums on eleven of Widespread Panic albums, and contributed to the songwriting as well. Along with Widespread, he also played in brute from 1995 to 2002—an offshoot of Widespread with Vic Chesnutt. Nance also played in the supergroup Barbara Cue which released multiple albums, as well as Todd Nance & Friends that he would form with various musicians upon occasion.

Many artists in the greater country, Southern rock, and Americana realm acknowledged Todd Nance’s passing on Wednesday, including Jason Isbell, and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars.

“Todd had that deep, southern boogie groove. Undeniable and infectious,” Cody Dickinson said. “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.”

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