R.I.P. Jay Reatard, 29: Punk Prince

Jay Reatard (né Jimmy Lee Lindsay) died today where he was born, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 29 years-old. Details on what caused his death aren’t available, but it’s maybe worth noting that he Twittered only a few days ago: “If I don’t get well soon I’m gonna eat myself into pig champion/tad teritory.” His record label, Matador, released the following statement:

“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 appeal of Jay Reatard was, quite simply, the happy anarchy and unmitigated piss-and-vinegar he put into his music, a style of raw, scraggly, dirty punk that drew influences from the entire cannon of a genre: Iggy Pop, The Clash, GG Allin, the Sex Pistols and Henry Rollins, to name a few. Jay refused to suffer anything that didn’t suit him, and spoke his mind, like the time he infamously told Brooklyn’s music scene to “shut up,” a quote that made the internet rounds (no doubt because of its resonance). Like many before him, however, this refusal tended to manifest itself in real and dangerous ways when it came to his life: fights were commonplace and are well documented on YouTube, as was a band that could never stay together and beefs with other musical acts. (The aforementioned Brooklyn quote was made in regard to Brooklyn band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Just a few days ago he offered a bounty on another band’s slashed tires).

Jay was a prolific artist and, no doubt, posthumous material will be forthcoming. A documentary about Jay was recently made, which Brooklyn Vegan noted in his interview with Jay last October. Ever quotable, Jay explained the reasons behind his work ethic to the blog: “I’m really always wanting more of something and being satisfied really scares me..its like a weakness to me…” The aforementioned documentary, and some select songs, are below. Expect tributes from the rock world to pour out; his brand of punk was angry, but fun, and by all means, his music was true to the form. He will be missed.

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