After the death in mid-August of Bob Birch, the long-time bass player for the Elton John Band, a search was started for a replacement.

On Monday, the band announced that Matt Bissonette, a friend of band music director Davey Johnstone, would take over the spot.

Bissonette has played the bass since he was 12 and, while still in school, played gigs with the likes of the Kingston Trio and the Ink Spots. His first long-term job was with the Maynard Ferguson band in 1981 and he would go on to tour with Gino Vanelli, Sheena Easton, A-HA, Christopher Cross, Brian Wilson, The Captain and Tenille, David Lee Roth and Joe Satriani.

Bissonette said of the difficulty of replacing Birch, who he was also friends with, in the band. "You can never take a guy like Bob Birch's place in a band. I would love to honor Bob on this Elton tour and while playing all these great songs remember how great he was, as a bass player and all-round musician. But it’s ten times more important to remember what a fantastic human he was, and is. Here's to you Bob.

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