Randy Coven, a versatile bassist who worked with Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen and Leslie West over the years, has died at age 54. Coven’s family has confirmed his passing on May 20, though a cause of death was not revealed. Services for Coven will be held later today (May 22).
Coven was a specialist in neoclassical and heavy metal styles perhaps best known for having toured with Malmsteen from 1999-2001, a period chronicled on the 2009 concert recording ‘Live in Korea.’ The guitarist’s over-the-phone audition of Coven reportedly went something like this: “Do you drink beer?” “Do you play with a pick?” “And do you play a Fender bass?” Coven was said to have answered “yes,” “yes” and “yes,” securing the job.
He struck up a friendship with Vai while attending Berklee College of Music, and the two formed a late-’70s group called Morning Thunder. Vai later joined Coven on the title track of the bassist’s best-known solo effort, 1985′s ‘Funk Me Tender.’ Alice Cooper, Asia and Megadeth guitarist Al Pitrelli appeared on Coven’s sophomore solo album, ‘Sammy Says Ouch!,’ and later worked with Coven as part of a late-’80s group called CPR. While with CPR, Coven collaborated with Deep Purple‘s Steve Morse and Zakk Wylde of the Ozzy Osbourne band.
His work with West, of Mountain fame, included 1994′s ‘Dodgin’ The Dirt’ and 1999′s ‘As Phat As It Gets.’ More recently, Coven released a 2002 solo album called ‘Witch Way,’ worked as part of A.R.K. and MCM, and appeared along with Joe Lynn Turner on a 2005 album by Russian pianist Vitalij Kuprij.