Rock Guitarist Passes at 57

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Michael Ward, renowned for his role as a guitarist with the ’90s alternative rock band, The Wallflowers, passed away at the age of 57.

Tracy Ward Hartfiel, his sister, announced his death in a Facebook post on Tuesday, April 2. Following this, The Wallflowers paid homage to Ward on April 3, recognizing his significant contribution to the band’s history.

Ward’s skills were key in driving The Wallflowers to commercial success, especially their albums “Bringing Down the Horse” (1996) and “Breach” (2000). These achievements not only established the band’s stature in rock music but also highlighted Ward’s guitar expertise.

Ward started his journey with The Wallflowers in 1995 and it came to an end in 2001. The period was marked by both successes and challenges, including a disagreement with Jakob Dylan, the band’s lead vocalist. Despite initial plans to leave, Ward was persuaded by manager Andy Slater to remain until the completion of the tour for “Breach.” In a 2001 interview with MTV, he expressed discontent with the shift from collaborative songwriting. He said, “For me, what music is all about is sitting down and creating songs from scratch. That’s my life, and it’s not really about adding guitar parts to someone else’s music. That’s not really satisfying for me. For a long time we were writing together, and then that stopped, and that made me pretty unhappy.”

However, Ward’s legacy is not limited to his time with The Wallflowers. Prior to joining them, he was a co-founder of School of Fish, a band famous for the hit song “3 Strange Days.” His three-decade-long career included contributions to over 50 studio albums with diverse artists, demonstrating his flexible guitar and songwriting abilities.

After leaving The Wallflowers, Ward continued to make significant contributions to music. He collaborated with artists such as Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, further reinforcing his status as a talented guitarist and songwriter.

Despite the ups and downs of his musical career, Ward maintained a connection with Dylan, as indicated by a birthday wish he posted to Dylan, who is Bob Dylan’s son, on Instagram in December, suggesting a reconciliation over time.

No immediate cause of death was provided. The news of his death was unexpected, particularly as he was due to perform in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, April 5. The Wallflowers’ tribute on Facebook remembered Ward for his musical giftedness as well as the personal impact he had on those he knew.

Photos accompanying the tribute included images of guitar picks, a youthful Ward, the cover of “6th Avenue Heartache,” and a picture with Dylan.

The music community and fans are mourning the loss of Michael Ward while also commemorating his enduring legacy. His work with The Wallflowers, School of Fish, and various other collaborations will continue to influence future artists, underscoring his lasting impact on music.

Ward is survived by his sons Tennessee Ward, 24, and Odin Von Ward, 10.

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