JAY REATARD DEAD AT AGE 29
On the morning of January 13th, at around 3 am Jay Reatard, real name Jimmy Lee Lindsay, was found dead in his sleep by his roomate, Jeffrey Novak. He was 29 years old. Needless to say, all of us at Spiral Scratch were extremely shocked and saddened by this news. We had hoped it was a hoax, but as details unfolded, it was not. The world had lost one of the great talents of the last 10 years. A controversial, moody and outspoken character, Jay had created or had a hand in some of the great world of often overblown and overhyped world of modern music ever since he sent his first demo tape to Memphis based Goner Records at the age of 15. Jay was no hype, though-he was the real deal.
The later part of the 90s, Jay's band the Reatards (where he adopted a surname that would stay with him) mixing the garage trash of Memphis local heroes the Oblivians with raging punk rock. In an era where punk rock had taken the road to bad hardcore or to the malls, Reatard was saving many of us from that. Making real punk rock when most fools had given up on the whole thing.
That rudimentary project would soon give way to the Lost Sounds, a synthezier driven (a tad before using synth was over every hipsters records) yet still aggresive band where the talent began to show with his songwriting and arrangements, with then-girfriend Alicjia Trout and Rich Crook. Trout and he also ran Shattered Records out of Memphis. During his time in the Lost Sounds, the band visitied Filthy Rich and myself at WBNY for a live performance on the air before a show at Mohawk Place, where i met them for the first time. We, dreamily, talked with the band about releasing the live performance--a plan which never came to fruiition. They were all about it, though. Buffalo's Bart Hart had released the bands first album on his Big Neck imprint, though they'd soon head for higher ground on bigger indies. Buffalo saw some of the earliest and most intense Lost Sounds shows, and also saw Jay's moody side, too.
After a bitter break up as the band was gaining in popularity, Jay took a role in several notable projects-Angry Angles, Final Solutions, Bad Times and i'm sure i'm missing some. His real breakthrough in the indie world came on his solo Blood Visions album, though. The major labels came courting him with contracts in hand-but he would settle with giant "indie" Matador Records.
Jay was making a bigger and bigger name for himself, both through controverisies and his recorded output.
Biography aside--you can read better written ones all over the internet, we feel like we lost one of our own. This was not a post to sell records, rather one i felt compelled to write.
Someone we watched grow up musically and whose music impacted our lives. Its different than losing a close friend or a family member--i know this personally, i'm still dealing with the passing of my father months before we opened this store, but it still hurts and we remain in shock. This one hit close to home. He was a true talent, not some flavor of the month bullshit that was being hyped by the online rags that seem to control taste. He was responsible for some of the great music of the last 10 years, but above all that, was one of us.
I can only imagine what his family and friends muct be going through right now. Our deepest sympathies are with them at this terrible time.
RIP, Jay Reatard. 1980-2010.