Nathaniel Gardiner, 58, of Bloomfield, was behind the wheel of a Hyundai passenger car when he ran off the right side of the westbound lanes, down a grass embankment, and struck a tree near milepost 2.2 in East Hanover around 11:25 a.m. Sunday, March 26, Daily Voice previously reported.
Video and photo tributes instantly poured in on social media for Gardiner, who friends and former bandmates call a skilled guitarist and compassionate friend.
“I played with a lot of big stars amazing musicians and he was one of them,” writes Larry McNeil.
“Some songs we would switch back-and-forth on leads he would do a run and look at me and I would smile and I would try to one up him and do a lead and he would smile back and nod his head in approval, great times…”
“Having the honor of playing with Nat was a blessing,” writes drummer Russell K. Murray. “We played with some of the biggest bands, on the biggest stages, in front of the largest crowds. He was & still is the best guitar player that I have ever been in a band with.”
“Not only was he a great rock guitar player but a great human being,” reads a touching tribute from another former bandmate, Michael Puccetti, adding that Gardiner “made every musician raise their game” while playing with the guitarist in several different groups throughout the years.
“Nat and I just texted each other a few days ago and he was playing again in a Pink Floyd band, once more,” adds Puccetti. “Save a drum set for me Nat, until we meet again. You will be missed greatly.”
A Belleville restaurant also shared its condolences and referred to Gardiner as the “karaoke king:”
Meanwhile, the crash remained under investigation. Additional details were not immediately released.
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