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American musician Jeff Austin, best-known as the founder of bluegrass group Yonder Mountain String Band, has died just days after cancelling a number of tour dates due to an unspecified “medical emergency.” He was 45.
Austin’s death was first confirmed by the official Facebook page for Yonder Mountain String Band, before being posted on Austin’s own Facebook.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of a beloved family member, mandolinist, singer, songwriter and founder of The Jeff Austin Band, and Yonder Mountain String Band, Jeff Austin,” the statement read.
“Austin passed away June 24, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. He was the son of Eileen Austin, husband to Devlyn, and father to Lily Rose (12), Penelope (5), and Jude Patrick (2). He was a dear friend whose music touched the lives of so many, and will be sorely missed. If you would like to make a contribution to help his family, please visit https://sweetrelief.org/jeff-austin-fund/.”
Austin had previously posted to his Facebook page on June 22 that he had been forced to pull out of a series of festival appearances due to a “medical emergency”, while expressing his sorrow. “Thanks for your understanding and continued support,” he wrote.
Austin founded the Yonder Mountain String Band in 1998, after which the group developed a cult following in bluegrass and jam-band fan circles. Austin departed the group in 2013, citing “creative differences and conflicting career goals”. He released his one and only solo album, The Simple Truth, in 2015.
The American bluegrass musician Billy Strings wrote on Instagram that Austin was “a pillar in this community,” adding: “Jeff and Yonder inspired so many musicians to play and brought a youthful, energetic audience to bluegrass music. Nobody could command and control an audience like him.”