Steve Albini, Legendary Rock Producer and Performer, Dead at 61

The Shellac frontman died of a heart attack on Tuesday

May 8, 2024 12:43 pm
Steve Albini
Steve Albini performs onstage with Shellac during FYF Festival at Los Angeles Sports Arena on August 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

According to Pitchfork, Steve Albini, the frontman for bands like Shellac and Big Black and an engineer and producer responsible for some of the most beloved rock albums of the ’90s, has passed away at the age of 61. Staff at Albini’s recording studio Electrical Audio in Chicago confirmed to the publication that he died of a heart attack.

Albini has worked on over 1,500 records, famously refusing the title of “producer” for many of them and preferring instead to be credited simply as a recording engineer. Despite that modesty, some of the most popular rock acts of the 1990s — including Nirvana, the Pixies, the Breeders, Bush, PJ Harvey and the Jesus Lizard owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his contributions to their albums.

He was famously outspoken, often weighing in and speaking out against the music industry’s more unsavory aspects. Back in 2021, he addressed the ongoing debate over whether one can “separate the art from the artist” and support musicians or other celebrities who behave badly.

Steve Albini Calls Barstool Sports and Joe Rogan “Trash Garbage”
“I want them all out looking for work,” he said. “Into the chipper with all of it.”

“Anybody who uses a position of power, status or authority to exploit people who are vulnerable to that power, status or authority is dead to me,” he said. “I don’t care what kind of movies a rapist makes, don’t care if other people think they’re good, they’re rapist movies and I’m not watching them. I have limited attention to lend to other people’s art, and I get to choose who deserves it. I’ll admit I laughed at Bill Cosby’s humor before I knew what a monster he was. Never since. Those Spanish Fly jokes just hit different now. I’ve never had a problem with transgressive art, but it sure seems like you can tell when it’s just a veneer used to justify being a fucking creep. Always hated Vice, still hate it. Just a parade of gawkers reveling in whatever misery they can observe from an ironic distance. Fuck that shit completely.”

At the time of his death, Albini was gearing up to tour with Shellac behind their first new album in a decade, To All Trains, which is out next week. No word yet on whether the surviving members of the band will tour without him. Stay tuned for more news as we get it, and in the meantime, give Nirvana’s In Utero or the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa a spin today in his honor.

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