John Regan — the bassist who was a member of Ace Frehley’s band Frehley’s Comet and recorded and performed with Peter Frampton — died on Friday at the age of 71. His wife, Cathy Merring-Regan, confirmed the news on Facebook in a post shared by a family friend. A cause of death was not immediately available.
“It is with the greatest sorrow and sadness that I let you all know John passed away this afternoon,” the statement reads, and continues with a reference to one of his favorite quotes. “‘All that you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.’ From reading your messages, I know he gave much away and so much love was sent to him. He passed suddenly, but that was his wish.
“I had heard him over the past few weeks having lengthy conversations with many of you and you brought such joy to him,” Merring-Regan concluded. “Thank you all for your heartfelt messages.”
Frampton paid tribute to Regan, who played and recorded with him from 1979 to 2010, in a Twitter thread on Saturday morning.
“There might only be a handful, if that, of people who come into your world and truly enrich your life. I have lost one of my closest buddies. He certainly enriched my life because of the person and the great player he was,” he wrote.
“John Regan was the best of us. He went out of his way to help people when things weren’t right. It didn’t matter who you were, prince or pauper. I know there are many of you out there who knew him. He was a friend to all. Always musically inspiring and one of the funniest people on the planet,” Frampton continued, sending condolences to Regan’s family. “I love you my brother you will be missed by so many, rest in peace,” he concluded.
In addition to performing and recording with Frampton, he was a member of Ace Frehley’s band Frehley’s Comet from 1984 to 1990. He also recorded with a number of artists over the years, including David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Billy Idol, and David Lee Roth.
In an interview with Songfacts in 2016, Regan said he viewed his role when recording or performing live as a “facilitator.” “By that I mean it is always in the forefront of my mind to try and play my bass parts to best serve the song, singer and my fellow musicians,” he explained.
He also spoke of his studio work with myriad legendary artists. “Suffice to say, each project had moments that I was pinching myself, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
“One experience that became a high-water mark was getting the call from Nile Rodgers, through my dear friend Rob Sabino, to stop by and replace a bass part on the track that David Bowie and Mick Jagger had recorded for Live Aid: ‘Dancing in the Street,’” he said. “That song had long been favorite of mine, but when I arrived at the studio to find Mick Jagger greeting me, it was something I will never forget.
“My most vivid memory of that day was that it happened to be one of those rare occasions that the part that made the final recording was a first take for me, but as I was laying down the bass track I could see Mick dancing around the studio, just getting into the music as if he were onstage,” Regan added. “Powerful moment in time for me, and it hit home how much Jagger was moved by the power of the song, and how sincere his love of music must be.”
In 2014, the longtime Wappingers Falls, New York resident cofounded the band Four by Fate, which reunited him with Frehley’s Comet’s Tod Howarth. They released Relentless in 2016.
Howarth posted a touching tribute to his friend of 38 years on Facebook. “John of course was a world class talent and an incredible human being and from a personal level, he was responsible for me joining him with Ace and Anton. He was also responsible for the championing of my song ‘It’s Over Now,’” Howarth said, adding: “I really haven’t stopped crying most of today… what’s more important is the man, the music, love, talent and friendship that he shared for his 71 years.” He noted that he had spoken to many of their mutual bandmates following the news. “We’re all shattered and I know his family is devastated.”