Singer/Guitarist Neal Casal Dies at 50

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Guitarist/songwriter Neal Casal died on Monday (Aug. 25) at age 50, as his friend and publicist Kevin Calabro confirmed Casal's Instagram account on Tuesday (Aug. 27).

"It’s with great sadness that we tell you our brother Neal Casal has passed away," Calabro wrote. "As many of you know, Neal was a gentle, introspective, deeply soulful human being who lived his life through artistry and kindness. His family, friends and fans will always remember him for the light that he brought to the world. Rest easy Neal, we love you."

The solo performer, co-founder of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Circles Around the Sun and former member of Ryan Adams' band The Cardinals and Blackfoot died by suicide, a source close to the guitarist tells Billboard

The source said that Casal had been "struggling one and off for the past year" with some personal issues, which his family and friends were helping him work through. He had been in the studio last week with Circles Around The Sun recording a new studio album and over the weekend they performed a well-received set at the LOCKN' Festival in Arrington, Virginia. "It appeared he was in a good head space. On Monday, however, he went home and stopped returning calls and texts from friends." The source said Casal's body was found on Monday evening.

The folk-influenced rocker and photographer was born in Denville, New Jersey, on Nov. 2, 1968 and began releasing solo albums in 1995 with Fade Away Diamond Time, the first of a dozen poetic, Americana-style solo efforts he released through 2011's Sweeten the Distance. He formed the trio Hazy Malaze in 2002, releasing three albums with bassist Jeff Hill and drummer Dan Fadel before joining Ryan Adams' band, The Cardinals, in 2005, touring with the group and appearing on five albums, including 2007's Easy Tiger and 2011's Class Mythology.

Beginning in 2012, he toured and recorded with former Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson's band, The Brotherhood, appearing on a dozen albums, including 2012's Big Moon Ritual and this year's Servants of the Sun. Casal's fluid, expansive playing was featured on albums by a wide variety of other acts, including Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha's 1998 solo debut, as well as works by Lucinda Williams, The Fruit Bats, Duncan Sheik, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Willie Nelson.

Adams paid loving tribute to his old friend on Instagram, writing, "Oh man. My heart is broken. It’s too much. What an honor to have known you, true believer. I love you, always. Go easy, brother. Go easy. Through thick and thin your heart was a lighthouse of kindness. Your eyes a mirror to a better world- your soul bled into ever note. I don’t know how to even feel right now. Grateful for your time. But immense loss. “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

Others paying tribute include Shooter Jennings, who wrote, "He was always my favorite picker in LA and we’d all just finished some beautiful music together." 

A week ago, Casal announced on Instagram that he was producing a new album from one of his favorite singer/songwriters Kenny Roby of Six String Drag, soliciting help from anyone who would like to help out. See more tributes to Casal below.

If you or someone you know need help please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1–800–273–8255) or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org to chat with someone online.

Finally, watch Casal performing at the LOCKN' Festival last weekend.