He Engineered Hundreds of Alternative Rock Albums

Legendary audio engineer Steve Albini dead at 61
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2024 1:08 PM CDT
Legendary Audio Engineer Steve Albini Dead at 61
Steve Albini performs with Shellac in Sao Paolo in 2008.   (Wikimedia Commons/c?ssio abreu)

The alternative rock scene has lost one of its most influential figures: Steve Albini, who engineered albums like Nirvana's In Utero, the Pixies' Surfer Rosa, PJ Harvey's Rid of Me, and hundreds more. The 61-year-old died Tuesday from a heart attack, staff at his Chicago recording studio, Electrical Audio, confirmed to Pitchfork. The New York Times reports that Albini rejected the term "producer," preferring to be called an audio engineer. The Times describes Albini as "one of rock's most acerbic wits" and a fierce critic of the music industry, along with anything he deemed "mediocre or compromised."

Albini, who was born in California and grew up in Montana, played in punk bands in Missoula as a teenager before he moved to Chicago to study journalism at Northwestern and became involved in the city's underground music scene, Rolling Stone reports. The Guardian reports Albini was "adored by musicians for his unpretentious approach, foregrounding the intentions of each artist rather than bringing in a particular production flavor." He was also a musician in his own right, providing vocals and guitars in bands including Big Black and Shellac. The latter band formed in 1992, and its first album since 2014, To All Trains, is due out next week.

One of the many musicians paying tribute to Albini Wednesday was Dylan Baldi of the Cleveland band Cloud Nothings, whose 2012 album Attack on Memory was engineered by Albini, Pitchfork reports. In a post on X, Baldi said: "steve touched countless lives and changed mine and many others for the better. a genuine, singular, principled person. spent the last 40 years helping people make art. there's no reason for him to be gone and the world is less interesting without him." (More obituary stories.)

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