Legendary Pentagram Guitarist Dead at Age 51
It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Vincent McAllister, original PENTAGRAM member and guitarist with the classic 70s line-up. While not a member of BEDEMON, the lines between the two bands are forever intertwined and with the unfortunate demise of the ramshead.org PENTAGRAM site, this seems the best location to post this publicly where fans will see it. A simple forum posting on Hellride or Stonerrock seemed inappropriate and inadequate.
Vincent was diagnosed with cancer in his neck in the summer of 2004. He underwent chemotherapy and lost his trademark blond locks, but it seemed to clear it up and he embarked on a road trip taking him through Colorado-where he played a number of local solo gigs-and eventually wound up in Canada, where
he’d planned to reside. Passionately political, he’d gotten fed up with the political climate in the United States. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving, the cancer came back and so he returned to the bay area to resume treatment.
During this time, Vincent worked on material on his home studio equipment, composing both instrumental fusion-styled tracks and vocal songs. It had also been decided that at the end of June when the lease was up at the place he was staying, he would move down here with me for the time being and we would work on new music together, with the eventual plan to have PENTAGRAM bassist Greg Mayne fly out for a week to record with us. Sadly, this will never happen.
As the months passed, the chemo was having less and less effect, and eventually cancer cells had shown up in his head as well. Fiercely private and not wanting to burden his friends with pessimistic news, it is difficult to know what the doctors may honestly have told him in regards to his outlook. Apparently the cells spread to his brain and he’d started brain radiation treatment in spring 2006, which, like the chemo, left him both nauseous and and so weak he couldn’t play guitar at times. Still, in a now-treasured last phone conversation I had with him around May 11th-a mere two weeks before his passing-he said he was feeling stronger and getting his appetite back, and that he was, “really looking forward to working on music,” when he got here, even stating he’d help clear out the garage so we could turn it into a studio. He sounded alert, energetic and upbeat, and I had every reason to believe things were looking up.
On Friday, May 26th, one of his roommates returned home and found him dead.
Vincent was one of the original members of PENTAGRAM, playing bass alongside vocalist Bobby Liebling, drummer Steve Martin and myself on guitar. We subsequently added guitarist John Jennings to beef up the sound, but Martin’s jazz-influenced drumming style wasn’t right for heavy rock and so I returned to the drums. After one single practice with this Mk. III version of the band which was amazing (and sadly unrecorded), Jennings decided he didn’t want to play heavy rock and quit, leaving us with an empty guitar slot. After a few weeks with Bobby playing guitar so we could get through the songs, Vincent suggested he try playing guitar. Bobby and I sort of chuckled to ourselves but figured we had nothing to lose.
That moment changed all of our lives forever. He blew our fucking socks off.
It was as though Blue Cheer’s Leigh Stephens had strolled into practice. We could not believe what we were hearing. How had this lanky, soft-spoken, pretty-boy bassist been this guitar-monster-in-hiding?!!
Vincent was a phenomenal guitarist, and it is sadly and truly astonishing that his incredible talent wasn’t recognized by more in the music industry. Some of his projects over the past few decades weren’t-in my opinion-necessarily the best showcases for his abilities, going off into various musical styles but never in the PENTAGRAM hard-rock vein that would have best-suited him to get the attention he so deserved and where the ‘guitar-hero’ fans would have been blown away. I had hoped to steer him back in that direction with the material we would have been working on this summer. Fans can at least enjoy his playing on the First Daze Here and First Daze Here Too PENTAGRAM releases, compiling studio and rehearsal material from the 70s.
No, Vincent wasn’t a member of BEDEMON but BEDEMON-founder Randy Palmer played with him in PENTAGRAM for a time, and Randy idolized Vincent as he did Tony Iommi, Lou Dambra and Leigh Stephens. And now, within four years, they’re both gone, Randy at 49 and Vincent at 51. Randy wouldn’t mind the BEDEMON site being used to honor Vincent as it honored Randy after his passing. But…words can never describe the sadness, the anger and frustration of this site turning into a memorial for fallen friends and former musical partners, gone way before their time and with so much potential not yet realized.
Vincent McAllister had just turned 51 on May 8th. He was unmarried and had no children or siblings.
Geof O’Keefe 5/30/2006.