On this day in 2021, the music world mourned the loss of Tony Markellis, the decorated bassist best known for his decades of work with Trey Anastasio and his various non-Phish projects.
Following Tony’s passing, countless fans, friends, and peers shared heartfelt written tributes to the musician, including a pair of thoughtful but emotional reflections from Anastasio. Many people noted his earnest humor and wit in addition to his musicianship, and both of those elements of Tony Markellis were on display for the final number of The Beacon Jams back on November 27th, 2020.
With the eight-week residency down to its final song—a song everyone knew would be a mighty “First Tube”—a giddy, grateful Trey issued a slew of “thank yous” to everyone he could think of, and he got a lot of them. It seemed that the one name he had failed to mention was the name of the bassist that had held The Beacon Jams together for the past wight weeks, Mr. Tony Markellis. Fortunately, that fact was not lost on Tony.
When Trey looked over to the rhythm section to count in “First Tube”, he was met with a curios Markellis not quite ready to play. In his friendly, soft-spoken manner, Tony piped up from the bandstand, “Trey, can I ask you one question? Who was that playing bass for the last eight weeks?” The rest of the band joined in, clearly having registered the accidental omission as well.
“I don’t know,” a sheepish Trey responded before turning to the mic once more for a proper homage. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he smiled, “Holdin’ it down, we’ll all say it at once…”
“Tony Markellis!” the whole ensemble cried. “I always save the best for last,” Trey added.
Blushing from the attention, Tony quipped, “Thank you so much for that unsolicited tribute.” Then, he dove into “First Tube”, “holdin’ it down” like always. The performance marked Tony’s last-ever with Trey Anastasio Band, the ever evolving outfit he helped found decades ago.
As Trey noted in a post along with the Beacon Jams “First Tube” video, “Tony’s final song with TAB, and the first song we ever wrote and performed together. We love you Tony.” Watch the Beacon Jams “First Tube” video below.
Trey Anastasio – “First Tube”, Thank Yous, Tony Markellis Banter – The Beaccon Jams Night 8 – 11/27/20
[Video: Trey Anastasio] [Originally published 5/6/21]