Van Conner, a bassist and songwriter who co-founded the grunge rock band Screaming Trees, died Wednesday from an extended illness at the age of 55. The news of his death was confirmed by his brother Gary Lee.

“It was pneumonia that got him in the end,” Gary Lee wrote. “He was one of the closest friends I ever had and I loved him immensely. I will miss him forever and ever and ever…”

Gary Lee said that Conner was hospitalized with “a liver infection” and was “suffering from an array of health problems” since late 2021.

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Who was Van Conner?

Van Conner was a bass player in high school and he formed the band Explosive Generation with his brother Gary Lee Conner and Mark Pickerel. It later evolved into Screaming Trees with the addition of singer Mark Lanegan — who died last year — and drummer Mark Pickerel in rural Ellensburg, Washington.

The band moved from their native Ellensburg, Washington to Seattle in the late 1980s.

The Trees released a series of strong albums on SST, particularly “Buzz Factory” and “Invisible Lantern.” He later formed another side project called Gardener, which released an album in 1999.

Conner played on seven studio albums with Screaming Trees until the band split in 2000.

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After the breakup of Screaming Trees, Conner worked as a session musician. He formed several additional alternative rock bands, including VALIS and Musk Ox.

After releasing several low-budget recordings on the small Velvetone label, the band signed with the indie titan SST Records, becoming one of the major groups of the American indie scene of the late ‘80s.