In Memoriam: Bruce Hastell

Bruce Hastell

Bruce Hastell, guitarist and vintage-instrument dealer, passed away October 24, after a 10-year battle with polycystic kidney disease that led to kidney failure. He was 68.

Hastell performed and recorded with members of the Beatles, Wings, Badfinger, Heart, Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet, Commodores, and others. In 1970, he toured with the Raspberry Blues Band, and in ’73 signed with the funk band Sun, which had a record deal with Capitol and toured as a headline act as well as an opener for James Brown, Lionel Ritchie, Kool and the Gang, Earth Wind & Fire, and others.

In ’92, Hastell signed a three-year contract playing Renaissance lute at the Excalibur Hotel, in Las Vegas. During that time, he started Starlight Vintage Guitars, and became an authority on vintage guitars, parts, and cases.

In ’93, he became personal manager for Joey Molland & Badfinger, and played guitar on a demo that resulted in Molland getting a record deal. He then co-produced Molland’s Timeless album with Howard Leese (Heart) and Beatles engineer Richard Lush.

In late ’95, Hastell became a representative and guitarist for Denny Laine, helping the performer obtain a work visa in the U.S. They then started the Denny Laine Bruce Hastell Project, which performed at Beatles-related events. In ’96, he co-produced a Badfinger documentary.

In 2001, Hastell moved to the Chicago area, where he started HTH Vintage. He also formed the Dan Toler Bruce Hastell Project, which toured the Midwest until Toler’s health began to decline in 2013. He then played with numerous Midwest acts until health issues forced him to retire in 2015.

Hastell is survived by his longtime companion, Diane, and son, Justin.

This article originally appeared in VG’s January 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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