Celebrating 31 Years Of Widespread Panic [Audio/Video] February 06, 2017 16:02
On this day in 1986, local Georgia musicians John Bell, Michael Houser, Dave Schools, Todd Nance took the stage at The Mad Hatter Ballroom in Athens (GA) for the first official performance as Widespread Panic. The band was opening for Strawberry Flats, and the show was said to be an Aid For Africa benefit. Just two years later, the band would release its first album, Space Wrangler, which also featured the addition of Domingo "Sonny" Ortiz (percussion). Keyboardist John "JoJo" Hermann would be added to the full-time roster in 1992. Panic suffered the devastating loss in the death of Michael Houser in August of 2002, who was initially replaced by George McConnell, before Jimmy Herring took on the long-term duties as lead guitarist in the fall of 2006.
Since their inception in Athens, Georgia, in 1986, Widespread Panic has risen to elite status among American jam bands. Following in the steps of other Southern rock jam bands such as The Allman Brothers Band, they draw influences from the Southern rock, blues-rock, progressive rock, funk and hard rock genres. They are frequently compared to other jam band "road warriors" such as the Grateful Dead and Phish. Widely renowned for their live performances, as of 2016, they hold the record for number of sold-out performances at Red Rocks Amphitheatre at 54 and Philips Arena at 20.
Watch Widespread Panic's complete show from 03.12.88 in Atlanta here:
Watch post-show footage from Widespread Panic in 1988 here: