Steve Albini | Credit: Matthew Eisman/WireImage

Steve Albini Has Died, Aged 61

Steve Albini – the veteran Chicago-based producer, engineer, singer, songwriter and guitarist – has passed away following a heart attack. He was 61 years old. It has been reported that Albini was at work in his studio, Electric Audio, when the heart attack occurred. Staff at the studio went on to confirm Albini’s passing to the media.

Albini initially came to prominence as a musician in the Chicago punk and noise scene in the early 80s. He fronted three bands across his career: Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac, the lattermost of which was planning to tour this year and release their sixth studio album To All Trains. He also sat in on bass for the projects Pegboy and Flour at various points throughout the 90s.

Big Black – ‘Kerosene’

In the mid-80s, Albini turned his focus to engineering albums for other bands. He would go on to work on dozens of albums now considered classics in the alternative rock pantheon – among them Nirvana‘s In Utero, the PixiesSurfer Rosa, The BreedersPod, PJ Harvey‘s Rid of Me, Dirty Three‘s Ocean Songs, mclusky‘s mclusky Do Dallas and Cloud NothingsAttack On Memory.

The news of Albini’s passing has seen tributes flood in from across the music community. Jon Wurster – whose former band, Superchunk, worked with Albini on multiple projects – described him as “a good, caring, and funny guy” on Twitter. “I will always treasure the night in ‘99 when he took me to Second City to see a show,” he wrote. “I walked into the Electrical kitchen at the agreed upon departure time and he looked at my head, smiled and said, ‘Your hair is peak Mellencamp’.”

“Steve recorded our first album, and that record changed our lives,” wrote Andrew Wilson of New Zealand post-punk band Die! Die! Die! “I remember being at Mikey [Prain, drummer]’s parents’ house in Dunedin, calling Electrical Audio to book the recording. I was surprised when Steve answered the phone himself. I found that so fucking inspiring, just like everything he did: his choice of guitars, his bands, the way he recorded music, who he recorded and how he wasn’t shy about sharing his opinions on music he didn’t like. Everything.”

“It’s so hard to imagine Steve Albini being gone,” wrote The Cribs, who worked with Albini on their album In the Bell of the Brazen Bull. “He has been an almost constant touchstone in the lives of us brothers ever since we first heard one of his albums as 13 year old kids. His commitment was to the artist – and in that regard he was unparalleled. Working with him was a dream – he was the greatest engineer in the world, that goes without saying, but it was his respect and commitment to the art of recording that really set him apart.”

Albini’s final album that he worked on that was released during his lifetime was Code Orange‘s 2023 studio album The Above. “Thank you for your kindness,” the band wrote in tribute on Instagram, sharing a video of them having a conversation with Albini in the studio. “You provided us with an amazing experience when we truly needed one. We will never forget it.”

Further Reading

Steve Albini Wins His Second World Series Of Poker Tournament

Steve Albini Lists His Favourite “Earnest And Vulnerable” 90s Music

Steve Albini Says The Internet, Not Prince, Saved Music

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