Neal Casal, an influential folk and Americana guitarist and singer-songwriter, died yesterday (Aug. 26). He was 50 years old.
Casal's representatives issued the following statement on social media: "As many of you know, Neal was a gentle, introspective, deeply soulful human being who lived his life through artistry and kindness. His family, friends and fans will always remember him for the light that he brought to the world. Rest easy Neal, we love you."
Casal began his career in the late 1980's as a guitarist in Blackfoot, a Southern rock band featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke. From there, he performed in the '90s as a solo artist and, from 2005 to 2009, as a member of Ryan Adams' backing band The Cardinals. More recent projects include his stints with The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Hard Working Americans.
As a sought-out session guitarist, Casal backed some of the biggest names in country and Americana. His discography includes Lucinda Williams' Caravan of Dreams (2001), Tift Merritt's Tambourine (2004), Willie Nelson's Songbird (2006) and Amanda Shires' Carrying Lightning (2011). He also collaborated with Shooter Jennings and Sheryl Crow and appeared in the film Country Strong as a guitarist in the band of Gwyneth Paltrow's character, Kelly Canter.
In the past week, Casal worked on an album with the band Circles Around the Sun.
Casal also made a name for himself as a photographer. His work appeared in Rolling Stone and USA Today, and his first book of photography, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: A View of Other Windows, was released in 2010.
Numerous artists praised Casal's talents on social media after the news broke. "Neal Casal was a fantastic musician and a great photographer and a kind, sweet soul," wrote Jason Isbell. "We'll miss him."