RIP: Garage/Punk Rocker Jay Reatard Found Dead at Age 29 in His Memphis Home
Update: 1/14/10 3:20 pm: Pitchfork is reporting that Reatard’s death is now a homicide investigation and the Memphis police are asking the public for any information as well as offering an award for leads.
Garage/punk rocker Jay Reatard, 29, was found dead this morning in his Memphis home. While details are still sketchy, early reports say that Reatard, whose birth name was Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr., apparently died in his sleep last evening. A cause of death has not yet been determined.
A fairly cryptic message from Reatard’s Twitter feed on Jan. 9th stated: “If I don’t get well soon I’m gonna eat myself into pig champion/tad teritory.” His last Twitter message, delivered on Monday, January 11th, was also somewhat cryptic, but did not hint at any indication of what he meant two days earlier about apparently not being “well.”
It said: “I will give anyone a hundred bucks per tire that they pop on the band liquor stores van! Yes I’m serious”. Perhaps in true Jay fashion, that was apparently his last public statement to his fans worldwide.
Reatard’s record label, Matador Records, issued this statement just hours ago: “We are devastated by the death of Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., aka Jay Reatard. Jay was as full of life as anyone we’ve ever met, and responsible for so many memorable moments as a person and artist. We’re honored to have known and worked with him, and we will miss him terribly.”
The alternative music world has lost another great talent, and much too young at that, for the second time in the past three weeks. Last month, on Christmas day, legendary singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt died after lapsing into coma following a rumored overdose of muscle relaxtants.
The rebellious, often controversial, Reatard made a name for himself in the alternative rock world for his fast, short and often furious punk songs and live stage peformances. In 2009, he released a less raucous, more pop-inflicted album, Watch Me Fall, to mostly critical acclaim. Reatard was known for his strange, sometimes violent, stage antics and played in a number of bands over the years, including Lost Sounds, Nervous Patterns, Destruction Unit, and the new wave garage rock outfit, The Final Solutions. This past October, for reasons never made clearly known, the members of Reatard’s solo band quit.
Last month, on December 9th, Reatard made headlines when he stormed off-stage near the end of a show at an Austin nightclub. While performing, two fans jumped up on stage and attacked Reatard. According to a reporter from the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, Reatard retaliated by “swinging his microphone stand and departed mid-song, giving the at-time rambunctious audience the finger as he exited the stage.” The fans jumped the stage after Reatard announced it would be his last song of the 40-minute set. Both men were later arrested.
The day after the incident, Reatard’s publicist issued the following statement: “Jay was attacked, totally unprovoked, by two different people, both of whom were later arrested. One guy bolted onstage and came swinging at Jay, but security took him away pretty quickly. Soon after (the band hadn’t stopped playing, by the way), another guy sprinted onstage and hit Jay. Unlike the first guy, Jay didn’t even see this guy coming. So Jay defended himself with the mic stand until security took that guy away, too. Jay is safe and unhurt, and the cops were there for about an hour afterwards.”
The following night after a performance in Dallas, Reatard posted this message about the incident on this Twitter feed: “Another epic tour comes to an end … Thanks to all the good folks that came out and f— you to the sh– heads in Austin! How was jail haha.”
“See-Saw” – Jay Reatard from Matador Singles ’08 (2008)
“Always Wanting More” – Jay Reatard from Matador Singles ’08 (2008)
“My Shadow” – Jay Reatard from Matador Singles ’08 (2008)
This is a video of Jay Reatard performing in Dallas; his last known live performance:
The following clip from Jay Reatard at the Goner Fest 6 in September: