DMB sax player dies at 46 from ATV wreck injuries

Published 11:11 am Wednesday, August 20, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeRoi Moore, the versatile saxophonist whose signature staccato fused jazz and funk overtones onto the eclectic sound of the Dave Matthews Band, died Tuesday of complications from injuries he suffered in an all-terrain vehicle accident, the band said. He was 46.

Moore died at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was admitted with complications that arose weeks after the June 30 wreck, according to a statement on the band’s Web site. It did not specify what led to his death, and nursing supervisor Galina Shinder said the hospital could not release details.

On June 30, Moore crashed his ATV on his farm outside Charlottesville, Va., but was discharged and returned to his Los Angeles home to begin physical therapy. Complications forced him back to the hospital on July 17, the band said.

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The band went on with its show Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where lead singer Dave Matthews dedicated the entire show to Moore.

‘‘It’s always easier to leave than be left,’’ Matthews told the crowd, according to Ambrosia Healy, the band’s publicist. ‘‘We appreciate you all being here.’’

Saxophonist Jeff Coffin, who played with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, had been sitting in for Moore during the band’s summer tour.

Moore, who wore dark sunglasses at the bands’ many live concerts, had classical training but said jazz was his main musical influence, according to a biography on the band’s Web site.

‘‘But at this stage I don’t really consider myself a jazz musician,’’ Moore said in the biography. Playing with the Dave Matthews Band was ‘‘almost better than a jazz gig,’’ he said. ‘‘I have plenty of space to improvise, to try new ideas.’’

Lead singer Dave Matthews credited Moore with arranging many of his songs, which combine Cajun fiddle-playing, African-influenced rhythms and Matthews’ playful but haunting voice.

The band formed in 1991 in Charlottesville, Va., when Matthews was working as a bartender. He gave a demo tape of his songs to Moore, who liked what he heard and recruited his friend and fellow jazzman Carter Beauford to play drums, and other musicians.

The group broke out of the local music scene with the album ‘‘Under the Table and Dreaming.’’ The band won a Grammy Award in 1997 for its hit song ‘‘So Much to Say’’ off its second album ‘‘Crash.’’ Other hits include ‘‘What Would You Say,’’ ‘‘Crash Into Me’’ and ‘‘Satellite.’’

Fans who attended Tuesday’s concert expressed sadness over Moore’s death and concern about the band’s future without him. ‘‘LeRoi was just super important to the band,’’ Shawn Harrington said before the concert. ‘‘That’s how the band came to be.’’