By Jeff Cornell
Tom Constaten, who played keyboards with the Grateful Dead from 1968 through 1970, is recovering from surgery after falling and breaking his neck. The 72-year-old fell while walking to a post office to drop off mail and was seriously injured. Thanks to a quick acting bystander, Constaten was treated quickly and is on the road to recovery.
Constaten, who is known as “T.C.,” took to his Facebook page on Tuesday (August 16) to share the news, “Fell down and broke my neck last Wednesday. Just like they warned me about as a kid.” He goes on to explain he fell while walking up a hill in North Carolina to drop off mail at a post office and fell face first onto the concrete. In his post, he thanked the woman who called 911, as well as the ambulance crew, nurses, doctors and everyone who helped him since his fall on August 10.
“I get back to the house, and the first thing I’m aware of is a forest of wonderful friends near and far showing such unbelievably warm support. I’ve experienced it before and, even though I have no idea what I might have done to deserve it, I felt the lift and reassurance,” he wrote.
Constaten added, “There have been rough patches in my life these past fifteen years, and it’s helped me get through it… The attitude of gratitude is in full bloom in this garden.”
T.C. is the only surviving full-time keyboardist employed by the Dead, following the deaths of Ron “Pigpen” McKernan in 1973, Keith Godchaux in 1980, Brent Mydland in 1990 and Vince Welnick in 2006. Bruce Hornsby filled in for the Dead in the 90’s and inducted the band in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but was never considered a full-time member of the band.
Constaten performed on two Grateful Dead studio albums: 1968’sAnthem of the Sun and 1969’s Aoxomoxoa, which spawned their classics “St. Stephen” and “China Cat Sunflower.” He also was a featured player on their 1969 double live album Live/Dead. Read his entire statement below.