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News Flash: Blues Traveler Bassist Pleads Guilty To Drug Possession
by Gil Kaufman
Addicted to Noise, National
Jan 26th, 1998

Blues Traveler bassist Bobby Sheehan was placed on two years' unsupervised probation by a Canadian court on Friday as a result of a Sept. 29, 1997, arrest on drug-possession charges.

Sheehan pleaded guilty to one charge of narcotics possession for less than a gram (.91 g) of cocaine that airport authorities found on his person. In exchange, a more serious charge of importing an illicit substance into Canada - which carried a maximum of seven years in prison - was withdrawn. Sheehan was arrested and detained by Winnipeg, Manitoba, airport police en route to an opening date for the Rolling Stones.

"The whole point of the exercise was that he not be convicted, and that's how it turned out," said Sheehan's Manitoba-based attorney, Ray Flett, on Monday morning.

Sheehan was present at the hearing. Barring a breach of his probation, Flett said Sheehan should not have to attend any further Canadian court proceedings on this matter. The 29-year-old bass player for the bluesy jam band does not have to follow up with a probation service, Flett said, adding that no court-appointed drug and alcohol counseling was required by the court. However, Flett said he was "reluctant to discuss" whether Sheehan had voluntarily entered a rehabilitation program.

According to a spokesperson at Blues Traveler's label, A&M, Sheehan had no official comment on the matter.

Contrary to some published reports, Flett said that neither actor Dan Aykroyd nor musician Neil Young provided specific letters of reference for Sheehan to bolster the bass player's case. "There were various letters that came in, including the ones from Aykroyd and Young that were not specific to the case," he said, "but they were the result of their [Blues Traveler's] charitable work done in the past."

The letters were presented with other materials in the case to demonstrate that Blues Traveler, as a band, are good corporate citizens and responsible members of the community, Flett added. Sheehan and Blues Traveler performed an acoustic set at Young's annual Bridge School Benefit concert in October.

Sheehan and Blues Traveler lead singer/harmonica player John Popper are scheduled to play under the name High Plains Drifter on Thursday at San Francisco's Bimbo's 365 Club in a benefit for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team. Also in the all-star jam band are Jono Manson and drummer Mark Clark of Jono Manson and the Mighty Sweetones and ex-Spin Doctors guitarist Erik Schenkman.

Blues Traveler will headline this summer's H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere) tour.