Bobby Sheehan, bassist for the rock band Blues Traveler, was found dead in his New Orleans house Friday morning (Aug. 20), the band's label said. He was 31.
Bandleader John Popper called Sheehan "the best friend I've had in the world."
"Despite the fact that Bob Sheehan was respected, loved and revered by all who knew him, or knew of his music, he was easily the most underestimated member of the band," Popper said in a statement released by the band's label, A&M Records. "The best friend I've had in the world has just died and I don't want to talk about it."
No cause of death was given, and Ann Black, a spokesperson for the New Orleans coroner's office, said an autopsy would likely be conducted Saturday. New Orleans police said there was no evidence of foul play or trauma.
Sheehan was working on a solo album, according to A&M publicist Steve Karas, and Blues Traveler were preparing to reconvene to record the follow-up to Straight On Till Morning (1997).
The band's surviving members — Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla and drummer Bobby Hill — were notified of Sheehan's death midday Friday, and Karas said the three would not make a collective statement for several weeks.
Sheehan pleaded guilty in January 1998 to possession of less than a gram of cocaine. He had been arrested at an airport in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in September 1997, where Blues Traveler were opening for the Rolling Stones. He was placed on two years' unsupervised probation.
Blues Traveler formed in 1988 in Princeton, N.J. They're known for organizing H.O.R.D.E. festival tour, which they usually headlined, and for such songs as "Run-Around" and "Canadian Rose" (RealAudio excerpt).
"Since the band's early days in Princeton ... Sheehan had always been one of the four cornerstones of the highly successful and loved quartet," A&M said in its statement. "He was there for every tour date, and had performed on all six of the band's albums. He will be missed by the artistic community to which he gave so much."
"All I can say is that Bobby was somebody who was adored by many people," Karas said.