Dallas bassist, musician, and beloved friend of so many, Brad Houser, has passed. He was removed from life support systems at 4:44 P.M. today in Austin, Texas. Houser suffered a massive stroke on July 17, and had remained in a coma. He was surrounded by friends and family at the time of his passing.
Over the last week, countless friends, musicians, and bass players from around the world have shared tributes and remembrances of Houser as a musical influence, and for just being a very down-to-earth and approachable person who always had time for everyone. Brad became a Buddy Magazine Texas Bass Tornado in 1987, also served on the Buddy Magazine Texas Tornado advisory board, and helped vet the class of 2022 Tornados for guitar and bass.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Houser developed a deep connection with music from an early age. On the recommendation of his childhood friend Brian Keith’s older brother, Houser picked up the bass as a teenager. His passion for music led him to attend Booker T. Washington High School in downtown Dallas in the 1980s, whose other notable alumni include Erykah Badu, Patrice Pike, Roy Hargrove, and Norah Jones among many others. It was there that Houser founded the New Bohemians with Edie Brickell and other students. In the mid-1980s the band began playing the then-desolate Deep Ellum warehouse district clubs, including the Theatre Gallery, Club Dada, 500 Cafe, among many others, combining rock, pop, and jazz elements into a sound that captivated audiences and critics alike. Their 1988 album “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars” became a landmark recording, reaching double-platinum status. The album also produced a Billboard #1 hit, “What I Am,” which featured his memorable fretless bass hook and glissandos throughout the song.
He attended Richland College in Dallas in the late 1980s, studying music theory with professor Dr. Jerry Wallace, who Houser credited in various interviews with greatly expanding his musical knowledge, and also being one of his biggest musical influences of that period.
While his work with Edie Brickell & New Bohemians put him on the map, Houser’s musical journey was far from finished. In 1993, he co-founded Critters Buggin with drummer Matt Chamberlain and saxophonist Skerik. Houser’s bass playing was integral to the band’s identity, and his extensive work with Critters Buggin includes their debut album “Guest,” “Host” featuring guitarist Danny Blume, and “Stampede”.
Reverend Guitars also produced a Brad Houser model bass. This bass was a unique creation in the field of bass design and manufacturing, and is noted for its playability, tone, body style, and unique material composition. Reverend also had a second collaboration with Houser in 2019, resulting in the “Fatfish” bass, a smaller 32-inch scale model. Reverend Guitars owners Ken and Penny Haas made this announcement on Facebook:
“It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of our friend, Reverend Signature Artist Brad Houser. Brad was a founding and current member of Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians and of Critter’s Buggin’. He became a Reverend Signature Artist in 2001. Thank you, Brad, for all the great music, for being with us for more than twenty years, and for being a good friend. We will miss you.
— Ken and Penny Haas”
Houser’s live performances are as noteworthy as his recorded output, and his Saturday Night Live appearance in 1988 with Edie Brickell & New Bohemians was a significant moment. In front of millions of viewers, Houser’s calm, assured performance demonstrated his prowess as a bassist. He was still performing up until the time of his hospitalization, and there is no doubt that he had a lot of music left to create. With his network of musician friends spanning over four decades, this work will be left for them to carry out on his behalf.
Brad Houser is survived by his wife, Kiri, and many thousands of friends and fans.