Steve Albini, pioneering producer of Nirvana and the Pixies, dies at 61

Steve Albini, the influential music engineer and producer of Nirvana, the Pixies and more, has passed away at the age of 61.

Last Updated on May 20, 2024

Steve Albini

Steve Albini, the revolutionary music engineer who helped define the sounds of the ‘80s and ‘90s, has passed away at 61. The cause of death has been ruled a heart attack.

Following a bout on the zine scene, Steve Albini hit the music world full force in the 1980s, founding pivotal punk band Big Black, which helped evolve the genre past expectations and was a seminal band of the post-hardcore movement. He, too, formed Shellac in the early ‘90s.

But outside of these bands, Steve Albini was by far better known to music lovers of the era for his work as an engineer. The first major record he worked on was the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa in 1988, an album so influential for Nirvana that they insisted on bringing Albini on board for their Nevermind follow-up, In Utero, with Kurt Cobain himself noting that the drums alone would be enough to change their sound. As such, In Utero had a rawness that Nevermind lacked, marking a key (but ultimately late) transition for the grunge era.

Steve Albini would also work on a number of other remarkable albums from the ‘90s, including The Breeders’ Pod and PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me. I would also personally recommend his work on albums by The Jesus Lizard and Silkworm, two bands that never get their due credit. Albini himself estimated that he had worked on “a couple thousand” records. Unfortunately, neither Big Black nor Shellac are on Spotify, but we’d encourage you to give a listen to as much of his work as you can to get an idea of just what sort of sound he promoted.

On his legacy and what music means, Steve Albini said, “The recording part is the part that matters to me — that I’m making a document that records a piece of our culture, the life’s work of the musicians that are hiring me. I take that part very seriously. I want the music to outlive all of us.” No doubt the legacy of Albini will live on as more generations discover his sounds and his influence.

What are your favorite Steve Albini albums or songs? Give us your picks and leave your condolences in the comments section.

Source: Rolling Stone

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.