The indie rock icon was 61

Steve Albini, the influential underground rock figure best known for fronting bands like Shellac and Big Black, died on Tuesday, May 7, at the age of 61. The recording studio legend produced classic albums such as Nirvana’s. In the uterus and Pixies’ Surfer Rosa He operated the Chicago studio Electrical Audio until his final years. The singer and guitarist was also an outspoken critic of musicians and others who participated in exploitative industry practices.

Employees at Albini’s studio, which he founded in 1997, confirmed to multiple outlets that the venerable rock musician’s death was caused by a heart attack. He lives with his wife, filmmaker Heather Winna.

Steve Albini in London in November 2004.

Mark Brusley/Redferns


Albini, who preferred the title “recording engineer” to “producer,” was born in 1962 in Pasadena, California, and later grew up in Missoula, Montana. As a teenager, he played in local punk bands before moving to Chicago to attend Northwestern University in the late ’70s. He earned a journalism degree and wrote about Chicago’s burgeoning punk scene, where he became instrumental in pushing the boundaries of post-punk and alternative rock.

He rose to fame in the early ’80s as the frontman of Big Black, a Chicago-based trio he formed, which released a string of EPs featuring the punk band’s seething signature guitar sound. The band, consisting of guitarist Santiago Durango and bassist Jeff Pesati, released their debut album, AtomizerIn 1986, their second project followed, Songs about f—ingA year later, this marked their breakup.

“The more time passes, the more accurate I think that assessment is,” Albini said Guardian In 2023. “The band went on to make this outrageous music and proved that if you have the right operating principles, you can do it on your own terms and you don’t have to kiss anyone’s ass.”

Steve Albini in his studio in Chicago in July 2014.

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Following the breakup of Big Black, Albini formed the noise rock band Rapman. The band released only one album in 1988. Two nuns and a pack donkey, before parting. Albini’s musical endeavors later turned to the studio, where he lent his production to the music of Robert Plant, The Stooges, Cheap Trick, Chevelle, and Superchunk, among others.

In the early ’90s, Albini continued to produce and engineer albums for various artists, forming the band Shellac in 1992 with drummer Todd Trainor and bassist Bob Weston. The trio released five albums during their multi-year run. Their last, title For all trains, Set to drop on May 17. The album, which they originally planned to tour, marks their first studio album release since 2014. Incredible friend.

Steve Albini performs with Shellac in Los Angeles in August 2016.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty


By his count, Albini worked on more than 2,000 albums for major acts and other artists during his lifetime. “If you pace yourself, you really don’t have to worry [burning out],” He said Rolling Stone In 2014.

“I don’t work a lot, so my ears aren’t physically tired,” he continued. “My attention may still be tired, but there are tricks to preserve it … You have to pay attention to the minute details over and over again, but if every second of the session is gritting your teeth and looking at the speakers. Paying attention to everything that happens, you will eventually burn out your attention, then you can No work can be done.”

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