photo by Todd V. Wolfson
George Reiff Passes Away at 56
Bass player and Austin legend George Reiff passed away on Sunday night surrounded by friends and family at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Reiff was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in his brain, liver, adrenal gland, and right lung last July, and more than 1,200 people have contributed nearly $150,000 to the crowdfunding effort set up in his name to pay for his medical expenses. Despite a strong and courageous battle, Reiff’s condition took an irreversible turn a couple of weeks ago brought on by a pair of minor strokes. Reiff was 56.
George Reiff’ began playing bass at the age of 12, rising to eminence in the 1980s when he was asked to join new-wave Tex-Mex star of Joe “King” Carrasco’s band. He spent the next years recording and touring with many of Austin’s renowned acts and musicians, including Charlie Sexton and John Dee Graham, and other far-reaching artists like the Jayhawks, Ringo Starr, Johnny Reno, Joe Walsh, and Dixie Chicks offshoot Court Yard Hounds Ray Wylie Hubbard. Reiff also had a prominent career as a producer, working with a number of chief Americana artists including Shunyribs, Uncle Lucius, the Mastersons, Band of Heathens, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Reiff also spent a number of his early music years working as a pastry chef to stabilize his income. An endeavor, he said, he actually turned out to be pretty good at, and felt and thrived in the organic parallels between a Friday night in a busy kitchen with a restaurant full of hungry people, and a Friday night in a venue packed with people hungry for live music.
George Reiff was respected around the world and undoubtedly an Austin legend, working with musicians of all walks of fame and influencing innumerable people of his and younger generations.