Mazzy Star co-founder David Roback dies, aged 61


David Roback and Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star

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David Roback and Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star in 1990

David Roback, the co-founder of beloved alt-rock band Mazzy Star, has died at the age of 61.

Along with Hope Sandoval, he wrote and produced all of the band’s songs, including Fade Into You, Flowers In December and Into Dust.

Prior to that, he was heavily involved in LA’s Paisley Underground scene, playing with the bands Rain Parade and Opal, from which Mazzy Star emerged.

Roback’s death was confirmed by his publicist. No cause of death was given.

Mazzy Star were known for their ethereal blend of psychedelia, dream pop and what one reviewer termed “velvet blues”.

The three albums they released in the 1990s were slow and atmospheric, and the band were reluctant stage performers, but they earned a passionate fanbase.

Fade Into You was their biggest hit, reaching number 44 in the US charts, and propelling their second album, So Tonight That I Might See, to platinum status. The song has recently been rediscovered by Taylor Swift fans, after people noted its influence on her Grammy-nominated single Lover.

They followed that album up with 1996’s Among My Swan, which took a more acoustic approach, before disappearing for 17 years.

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Mazzy Star performing at The Palace, Hollywood, Los Angeles in 1994

“I don’t think we were really in the mood to release music,” Sandoval told the Guardian when they re-emerged with a new record, Seasons Of Your Day, in 2013.

“We were always recording and writing,” added Roback. “We just didn’t release any of it publicly.”

In the band’s downtime, Roback had produced songs for Beth Orton and moved to Norway, where he became involved with Norwegian musicians and made experimental music for films and installations.

After re-forming, Mazzy Star continued to record and release music, releasing their last EP, Still, in 2018, shortly after a three-night residency at the Sydney Opera House.

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David Roback and Kendra Smith of the Los Angeles based rock group Opal in 1983

Earlier in his career, the guitarist had another band called Unconscious, alongside his brother Stephen Roback and soon-to-be Bangles lead singer, Susanna Hoffs.

Leading the tributes online, Hoffs said he would be “eternally missed”.

Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate, another seminal band on the mid-80s LA music scene, told on Facebook how their respective groups had “shared a special time together”.

Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis added it was “very sad” news, noting how he’d “always loved his music”. Andy Bell of Ride and Oasis-fame said Roback’s bands had “opened my ears in the mid 80s”.

His lasting influence on modern music was evidenced by the reaction of Alexis Krauss, from current Brooklyn noise rock duo Sleigh Bells.

“I don’t know what I would do without Fade Into You,” she declared.

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