I don't want to devalue the early departure of any musician I might be blindly overlooking, but I feel like it's safe to say the passing of Jay Reatard will have one of the most profoundly personal effects on the music industry in recent memory. Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr.–a.k.a. Jay Reatard–was 29.
I say this not because I knew him (I didn't), but because like most people I do know, I was always connected to him by a mere degree or two. Whether it was stories of friends who made music with him, toured with him, partied with him, or in some instances, got into fights with him, Jay Reatard was both a rock star and just another drunk punk rolled into one. And it's why we loved him.
Take for example this story King Khan told The Village Voice in late 2008:
When he was 17, he played at a
mechanic's garage. This guy that was a fan of the Reatards [Jay's
former band] set up a show in some garage. So while the show was going
on, Jay was getting really crazy. While he was playing, he got naked
and he opened up a can of motor oil and dumped it all over his head and
was slipping and sliding everywhere. And then some smart-ass in the
audience just rolled up a can of something on stage–it was all dirty,
so he didn't know what it was. Jay grabbed it and opened it up and
sprayed it on his dick. Within 10 seconds he started screaming in agony
on the floor in the fetal position–“Ahhhhh!”–while covered in oil.
Then he grabbed the can and scrapped the dirt off from it–it was
EASY-OFF oven cleaner. He got taken to the hospital. Imagine the doctor's face when a
17-year-old Jay Reatard shows up covered in motor oil with two layers
of the skin on his penis burnt off. That's how punk his love is.
As it has been confirmed by many sources, Jay passed away in his sleep last night. Though no cause of death has been given yet, many of us can and will make assumptions, but that's irrelevant at this point. If anything, I would argue this unfortunate ending will only solidify his place in the annals of punk rock lore.
Because I didn't know him personally, I won't sit here and wax poetic about the man. I will simply say he will be sorely missed by the many of us who have been affected by his music and his life. If you have a story you'd like to share about Jay Reatard, please post it below.