Stephan Ellis, who played bass in Survivor from 1981-87, and again from 1996-99, has died.

The cause of death was not given.

Guitarist Frankie Sullivan broke the news on the band's Facebook page. "We are devastated to hear that Stephan Ellis has passed away," he wrote. "Steph was the guy who was only interested in the music. He absolutely had a special charm with the fans and within the band."

Keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Jim Peterik, who founded the band with Sullivan, wrote that the news of Ellis' death "hit me like a shot. ... Stephan was the genuine rock 'n' roll article. He had the look, the attitude and his aggressive style on his Fender Precision bass that helped define what would become the signature sound of Survivor."

Peterik also recalled how Ellis joined the band. After the rhythm section of bassist Dennis Keith Johnson and drummer Gary Smith left following Survivor's self-titled debut album, Peterik and Sullivan went to Los Angeles to audition new members. They saw a band called Baxter playing in a roller rink, and approached Ellis about trying out for the band.

"Next morning he showed up promptly at 9:30 along with the drummer Frankie had set up to audition, Marc Droubay," Peterik recalled. "What a fortunate coincidence, because from the downbeat of a new song we were working on called 'Hearts of Stone' we knew we had found in this rhythm section the sound we were looking for: solid, pounding and totally locked as a unit. We soon started working up songs that became the pivotal album in Survivor’s history, the one that famously caught the attention of one Sylvester Stallone. It was called Premonition. It was indeed."

Ellis played on all of the band's major hits, staying with the group through 1986's When Seconds Count. He returned a decade later, but left again in 1999. He played a few more shows with them in 2005.

 

 

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