Wade Matthews

Electric Bass Player

Wade Matthews, 50, a versatile and highly regarded electric bass player in the Washington area since the 1970s, died Aug. 18 at Manor Care in Bethesda. He had HIV and complications from liver cancer and pneumonia.

Over the years, Mr. Matthews played in bands of almost every style, including rhythm and blues, rock, jazz and New Age.

He first attracted notice in the 1970s playing with saxophonist Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering, a jazz-fusion band. He also performed with the Kennedys, Nils Lofgren, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tommy Lepson, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, among others, and maintained a rigorous schedule of recording-session work, including for commercials.

The son a Navy master chief, Wade Courtney Matthews was born in Bethesda and raised across the United States before graduating in 1972 from Rockville High School. As a youth, he played trombone and guitar, switching to bass as a high school sophomore and soon beginning his professional career.

One of his early jobs was with the Rent's Due Band, led by Bill Holland, now the Washington bureau chief for Billboard magazine.

"Wade was undeniably leagues beyond most bass players who chose to play rock or R&B, and his facility on electric bass was just astounding to his colleagues," Holland told The Washington Post last year. "That's always been a part of Wade's musical personality, but in recent years he began to have a real affinity for playing less and nailing it more -- the groove, the placement of notes, wiser choices, realizing the importance of putting air around a note."

Mr. Matthews formerly taught bass at Montgomery College in Rockville. He was a Silver Spring resident and a member of the Episcopal Church of the Spirit in the Kingstowne section of Fairfax County.

His marriages to Melanie Monke Matthews and Kirstine Larsen Matthews ended in divorce.

Survivors include a son from his second marriage, Wade Matthews Jr. of Naples, Fla.; a sister, Susan Jackson of Rockville; and two brothers, Lee Matthews of Charles Town, W.Va., and Joel Matthews of Stafford.