More sad news comes out of the music world today. BBC News reports that David Roback, the co-founder of alt-rock’s cherished “Mazzy Star,” passed away on Monday. He was 61 years old.
Roback was born and raised in Los Angeles. He was in many bands throughout his life, including:
Roback was a huge part of the Paisley Underground music scene in Los Angeles in the eighties. Bands would collaborate over music rich in psychedelia, vocal harmonies, guitar interplay and pop/garage rock revival. Lana Del Rey, who will perform at the 2020 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, has said Roback’s songwriting has had a major influence on her music.
Roback’s publicist confirmed his passing. The cause of death has yet to be released. We do know that Roback spent most of the last decade living in Norway, working with experimental musicians and artists like Mari Boine, Helga Sten and Guri Dahl, according to Uncut. Some might call the move part of retirement planning, but for someone as reclusive and mysterious as Roback, it could have just been a spontaneous pursuit of new musical inspiration.
Mazzy Star had a passionate fanbase throughout the nineties that’s still strong today. Roback helped write and produce all of their songs, including some of their most successful: “Fade Into You,” “Flowers in December” and “Into Dust.”
Roback played guitar, keyboard, and piano for the band.
I love a lot of Mazzy Star songs but I don’t know what I would do without Fade Into You. RIP David Roback. Thank you for the music 💔💙
— SLEIGH BELLS (@sleighbells) February 25, 2020
In a 2013 interview with Uncut’s Michael Bonner, Mazzy Star spoke about their music.
“There was constantly music on the radio,” Roback said of his childhood on the west side of Los Angeles. “The Beatles made a strong impression on me. The Doors. Love. Bands like that. I just thought they were speaking from a world I really wanted to be part of.”
He continued, “In the studio, I’m usually playing guitar or keyboards. We like to get a live version we like. That’s what really appeals to us. Someone asked me recently if we were perfectionists, and I think perfection in music is really a dull thing, the imperfections of music are what give it character. Live, things happen in the moment.”
Many are paying tribute to David Roback across social media, including Susanna Hoffs, who grew up across the street from him.
Peace and love David Roback…
my first musical partner and my very dear friend. You will be eternally missed. 💔 pic.twitter.com/mO1MnLDCOG
— Susanna Hoffs (@SusannaHoffs) February 25, 2020
Very Sad David Roback died
I always loved his music pic.twitter.com/UrADoJ2ds3
— J Mascis (@jmascis) February 26, 2020
David Roback was best known for Mazzy Star, but his earlier band, Opal, was such a huge part of my high school years. So many gorgeous songs. https://t.co/uOiJaW07ud
— sarah thompson akers (@gogorabbit) February 25, 2020
This is awful. From Rain Parade to Clay Allison to Rainy Day to Opal to Mazzy Star, I’ve loved everything he’s ever been a part of. Have you ever listened to Opal’s ‘Happy Nightmare Baby’ LP? You should. RIP David Roback. https://t.co/6iMTrvH2jk
— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) February 25, 2020
— the pastels (@pastels_the) February 25, 2020
Sad to hear about David Roback, a founding member of 3 legendary groups: Rain Parade; Opal; & Mazzy Star. Few musicians have been founding members of 3 important bands like that. @TanyaDonelly is the only other that immediately jumps to mind. Peace love to his friends & family.
— Bill Janovitz (@billjanovitz) February 26, 2020
We wish peace and healing to the family and friends of the talented David Roback.
For those just learning about Mazzy Star, you can dive into their discography through one of their biggest hits here.