Jay Reatard: 1980 – 2010

14 Jan

The music world lost yet another great yesterday. Rumours were floating around online throughout yesterday afternoon but nobody was really sure until Goner Records posted a banner on their site confirming the singer’s death in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Despite being just 29, the troubled yet brilliant Jay (real name Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr) made over twenty albums both as a solo artist and in bands such as The Reatards, The Lost Sounds and Final Solutions.

His live shows were intense, vigorous affairs with Jay’s erratic, indulgent and short fused personality adding further power and aggression to the hard-edged, anxiety-ridden garage punk anthems he’d been so prolific at writing since his childhood.

As a musician myself, I connect with Jay’s cathartic records because of the sheer passion that went into them. At loud volumes, the vigor and intensity that comes from his music is overwhelming to the point where it becomes therapeutic. Whilst traditionalists may argue that punk rock music is “just a load of noise” and the song arrangements lack originality, melody and dynamics, I say, sometimes you don’t need that. Sometimes you just want to blow the cobwebs away. And Jay was a master at creating music that did just that.

Whilst Jay was a cult hero to those that avidly follow garage rock music, he never broke through into the mainstream in the way that he deserved to. He will now inevitably acquire a heap of new followers and admirers off the back of his death. The tragedy is that he will not around to be appreciated in the way that he truly deserved throughout his highly prolific, tormented and zealous life.  

An ugly death. A tragic loss. He will be missed.

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