While the exact cause of death remains unknown, Golub had experienced a series of medical setbacks in recent years, including a rare, incurable brain disorder known as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.
In his long career, Golub recorded 11 solo albums and three as leader of jazz band Avenue Blue. But it was his work with Stewart — Golub toured and recorded as his lead guitarist from 1988 until 1995 — that earned him the most renown in jazz and rock circles.
Born in Copley, Ohio, in 1955, Golub began playing guitar at 12, absorbing a wide range of influences, including music from the Grand Ole Opry and the British Invasion. The blues became his true obsession, and the guitarist soaked in music by Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, among many others.
After attending the Berklee College of Music, Golub moved to New York in 1980 and began working with Squier, recording seven albums with the arena rock star. He would go on to become an in-demand session player, working with numerous pop and jazz artists including Tina Turner, Peter Wolf, Vanessa Williams and Bill Evans.
Golub released his debut album Unspoken Words in 1988, the same year he would join Stewart’s band as lead guitarist. He stayed with Stewart until 1995, but left to focus on his own career. Avenue Blue, the eponymous debut by Golub’s group, was released in 1994 and earned Golub new acclaim in the smooth jazz market. Golub would record a steady stream of albums in subsequent years, including 2000’s Dangerous Curves, 2003’s Soul Sessions and 2007’s Grand Central.
In 2011, Golub lost his eyesight after his optic nerve collapsed, though the musician maintained an optimistic outlook on his career and life. “Fortunately, I’m in one of the few professions where I can get by without my sight,” Golub said on his website. “It’s made me a better artist. It’s opened up my ears, and I hear things more acutely now. It’s put me more in touch with my feelings and with my public. My audience has been incredibly supportive.”
One year later, Golub made headlines when he fell off a New York City subway track and was dragged by an oncoming train, only to escape with minor injuries. The musician used the incident as inspiration in naming his last album, 2013’s Train Keeps a Rolling.
“To me, there’s only two kinds of music: the kind that’s from the heart and the kind that’s not,” Golub said. “Regardless of the style or genre, music is either real or it’s not real. I like any kind of music that’s from the heart, and that’s the kind that I try to make.”
A tribute concert featuring Koz, Christopher Cross, Chuck Loeb, Kirk Whalum and others will be held at New York’s B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill on January 21st. The show will raise funds on behalf of Golub and his family.