The Times Union has reported that Tony Markellis died quietly in his sleep on April 29, 2021, at age 68. This is an obit that lists his musical history on the Jambase site. This is a link to Tony’s own website.
Trey Anastasio offered this rememberbance:
“Tony Markellis passed away yesterday,” Anastasio wrote, after hearing the news. “He was a truly remarkable human being. He was kind and had a sweetness to his personality, and he was the baddest bass player I’ve ever heard. I loved Tony, and I always will. I’m having a hard time processing this. Tony was the heartbeat to so much of my life, and to the lives of so many others… I was very lucky to have had a very long phone conversation with Tony only a few days ago. We talked for almost two hours. We caught up on family, friends, and funny pandemic thoughts. It wasn’t often that we talked on the phone like that. I had no idea it would be our last conversation. Now it feels like it happened for a reason.”
Tony had been a fixture here in Saratoga Springs since the mid 70’s. Tony was both a profoundly talented bass player and one of the kindest and most unpretentious people you are every likely to meet.
He played every kind of music that required a bass, and he played with everybody. He toured with Dave Bromberg (no slouch as a string musician). According to Tony’s website, Bonnie Raitt called him “The best *#@%! bass player in the world.”
Tony was quiet spoken. Tony was music. As the bassist he played in the background and as great bassists do, he was the solid foundation any band could count on.
His arrival here in 1975 coincided with the age of Lena Spenser.
I know it is popular to disparage Saratoga Springs in the 1970’s as a moribund, wasteland. For those of us who lived here then it was a fun place. There was a whole culture of great musicians who used Saratoga Springs as their base. It was a charming and quirky world full of interesting people.
Tony was part of that world and he will be deeply missed.
This is a recent video from Cafe Lena with Tony backing up Michael Jerling.