Juan Nelson, Famed Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals Bassist, Dies at 62

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals bassist Juan Nelson passed away on Thursday at the age of 62. His cause of death is unknown at this time.

Harper broke the news to fans via a tribute on Twitter. “Beloved husband, father, musical genius, BHIC band member of 27 years, and the finest man I’ve ever known. It’s near impossible for me to put words to this pain and loss. Rest In Glory our beloved Reverend Juan,” he wrote.

Nelson was born on Aug. 24, 1958 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and his family moved to California in the ’60s. He fell in love with music as a child and bought his first bass for $70 as a teenager. Nelson played his first show with Harper on April 30, 1994 at Nick’s Caffé Trevi in Claremont, California and instantly became an integral part of the band for 27 years. Aside from playing bass, Nelson was also a producer, composer, and songwriter. He has writing credits on tracks off 1995’s Fight for Your Mind, 2003’s Diamonds on the Inside, 2006’s Both Sides of the Gun, and 2007’s Lifeline.

In addition to Harper, Nelson also performed and recorded with a number of other artists including Big Advice, Vesta Williams, All For One, Brenda Russell, Al Wilson, Freddy Jackson, Tower of Power, Yanni, Sunny Green, Joel, Neal Larson, Eric McFadden, Charles Wright, Piers Faccini, Victor Rocha.

Nelson is survived by his wife Kathy and children, Damion, Preston, Jeremy and Naisha Nelson, as well as his daughters in law Ali and Sharizma and grandchildren Esscense, Deja, Gaylen and Jailei.

In lieu of flowers the family set up a GoFundMe page to help with immediate expenses, including remaining medical bills. Visit the GoFundMe page here.

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