Survivor Bassist, Stephan Ellis, Dies

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Former Survivor bass guitarist Stephan Ellis has died. The news was revealed by the band’s guitarist Frankie Sullivan via a February 28, 2019, post on the group’s Facebook page. The cause of death, the precise day, and Ellis’ age were not revealed.

Ellis joined the band in 1981, some three years after the band was formed in Chicago, and performed on Survivor’s five Top 10 singles, none bigger than 1982’s “Eye of the Tiger.” The classic rock anthem, #1 for six weeks, was the theme song for the box-office hit, Rocky III.

Ellis remained with Survivor until 1987. He returned in 1996, though the second stint ended in 1999.

Sullivan’s tribute to his former bandmate:

“We are devastated to hear that Stephan Ellis has passed away. Steph was the guy who was only interested in the music. He absolutely had a special charm with the fans and within the band. I loved much when it came to Steph.

“What I remember most and clearly recall is the day when we cut ‘Keep It Right Here’. The Bass part and lines in the intro just folded into the mix and it was the bass part that inspired me to reach higher on my guitar. We cut our tracks together, live in the studio. Steph’s runs on the neck of that blue bass are as memorable as the song itself.

Listen to the studio recording of “Keep it Right Here”

“The guitar player/bass player vibe has been around for a long time and Stephan and I had our thing as well. We fed off each other a lot and I think it was simply his calm ways that not only presented him to me in the beginning, it was also Steph’s calm ways that often helped most. He was always good for some adventurous storytelling that the censorship of today has removed, never to be told by this band reporter. But I learned a few things, we all did…!!!!

“I will miss Stephan, we all will. We can talk for years about how much he’d cause us to laugh and most importantly to a rock n’ roll band at that time, the infamous “ice” lesson he passed on to us all one day that stuck for a long while.

“We Love you Steph!”

Billboard ranked “Eye of the Tiger” as 1982’s #2-biggest single.

Watch the full intro of Rocky III as it leads into “Eye of the Tiger”

Related: Top radio hits of 1982

The song went on to earn the Grammy Award for Best Duo or Group With Vocal.

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