In Memoriam|

Steve Albini (61) (July 22, 1962 – May 7, 2024) was an American musician, record producer, audio engineer, and music journalist. He was the founder, owner and principal engineer at Electrical Audio, a recording studio complex in Chicago. It has been estimated that he worked on several thousand albums over his career. He worked with acts such as Nirvana, Pixies, Bush, the Breeders, PJ Harvey, the Jesus Lizard, and former Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. He also played in various bands, most notably Big Black and Shellac.

Albini was critical of the music industry, arguing that it exploited and stylistically homogenized artists. As a part of his opposition he refused to take royalties from artists he worked with, arguing that it was unethical.

Early life
Albini was born in Pasadena, California, to Gina (née Martinelli) and Frank Addison Albini. On his birth certificate, the middle name section says “(None)” as his father refused to leave it blank. His father was a wildfire researcher. He had two siblings. In his youth, Albini’s family moved often, before settling in the college town of Missoula, Montana, in 1974. Albini was Italian American, and some of his family are from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy.

While recovering from a broken leg, Albini began playing bass guitar and participated in bass lessons in high school for one week. He was introduced to the Ramones by a schoolmate on a field trip when he was 14 or 15. He felt it was the best music he had ever heard and bought every Ramones recording available to him, and credits his music career to hearing their first album. He said, “I was baffled and thrilled by music like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Pere Ubu, Devo, and all those contemporaneous, inspirational punk bands without wanting to try to mimic them.”
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The Wikipedia article goes into depth on the following topics:
Performing career
1992–2024: Shellac
Albini formed Shellac in 1992, with bandmates Bob Weston (formerly of Volcano Suns) and Todd Trainer (of Rifle Sport, Breaking Circus and Brick Layer Cake). They initially released three EPs: The Rude Gesture: A Pictorial History (1993), Uranus (1993) and The Bird Is the Most Popular Finger (1994). The first two EP releases were on Touch and Go, while the third EP was a Drag City label release.
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Recording career
In 2004, Albini estimated that he engineered the recording of 1,500 albums, mostly by underground musicians. By 2018, his estimate had increased to several thousand.Artists that Albini worked with include Nirvana, Pixies, the Breeders, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, the Jesus Lizard, Don Caballero, PJ Harvey, the Wedding Present, Joanna Newsom, Superchunk, Low, Dirty Three, Jawbreaker, Neurosis, Cloud Nothings, Bush, Chevelle, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (as Page and Plant), Helmet, Fred Schneider, the Stooges, Owls, Manic Street Preachers, Jarvis Cocker, the Cribs, the Fleshtones, Nina Nastasia, the Frames, the Membranes, Cheap Trick, Motorpsycho, Slint, mclusky, Labradford, Veruca Salt, Zao, the Auteurs, Spare Snare, Foxy Shazam.
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Albini in 2008
In Albini’s opinion, putting producers in charge of recording sessions often destroys records, while the role of the recording engineer is to solve problems in capturing the sound of the musicians, not to threaten the artists’ control over their product.
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Production influences
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Nirvana and In Utero
In 1993, Nirvana hired Albini for their third album, In Utero. Albini dismissed Nirvana as “R.E.M. with a fuzzbox” and “an unremarkable version of the Seattle sound”. However, he accepted the job because he felt sorry for them, perceiving them as “the same sort of people as all the small-fry bands I deal with”, at the mercy of their record company. Cobain said he chose Albini because he had produced two of his favorite records, Surfer Rosa (1988) by the Pixies and Pod (1990) by the Breeders. Cobain wanted to use Albini’s technique of capturing the natural ambience of a room via the placement of several microphones, something previous Nirvana producers had been averse to trying.

At Albini’s recommendation, Nirvana went to Pachyderm Studios in Minnesota to record the album. Albini chose the studio in part due to its isolation, hoping to keep representatives of Nirvana’s record label, DGC Records, away. Recording was completed in six days; Cobain had anticipated disagreements with Albini, whom he had heard “was supposedly this sexist jerk”, but called the process “the easiest recording we’ve ever done, hands down”.
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Electrical Audio
Albini bought Electrical Audio, his personal recording studio, in 1995.
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Musical influences
Music production
Music industry
In “The Problem with Music”, Albini significantly criticized the music industry and the major record labels of the time for financially exploiting and deceiving their artists. In the essay’s longest section, he sketched out a financial breakdown to show how a hypothetical band selling 250,000 copies of a major-label debut album would end up making only “about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11” from the album, due to all the expenditures the label makes, ostensibly on their behalf. In a 2004 presentation at Middle Tennessee State University, Albini reaffirmed this stance.
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Music streaming
Music journalism
Music festivals
Media appearances
Other activities
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Albini was married to film director Heather Whinna and they lived in Chicago. His right leg was slightly deformed as a result of a car accident when he was 18.
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According to a 2022 interview, Albini avoided drugs and alcohol. He stated that his father was an alcoholic and that made him aware of his “own vulnerability to addiction.”

Albini died from a heart attack at his home in Chicago on May 7, 2024, at the age of 61, a week before Shellac’s To All Trains was scheduled for release.

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If you are thinking of committing suicide, please think of how much it will hurt your family and friends, and maybe cause them a whole lot of trouble and financial problems. Warning Signs of Suicide – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 and 888-628-9454 for Spanish. Learn the signs of someone who may be contemplating suicide.

If you want to know more about any of the musicians we lost, please check them out at

May 2024
7: Steve Albini, 61, American musician (Big Black, Shellac) and record producer (In Utero), heart attack; Ignatius Jones, 66–67, Australian-Filipino singer (Jimmy and the Boys, Pardon Me Boys) and journalist; Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, 88, Polish jazz musician, composer and arranger.

6: Bill Holman, 96, American jazz composer and saxophonist; Wayland Holyfield, 82, American songwriter (“Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)”, “Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer”, “You’re My Best Friend”); Christiane Stefanski, 74, Belgian singer.

5: Belgacem Bouguenna, 61, Tunisian singer and teacher; Willie Hona, 70, New Zealand Hall of Fame musician (Herbs), pancreatic cancer; Kelath Aravindakshan Marar*, 82, Indian chenda player.


4: Miroslav Imrich, 71, Czech singer and composer (Abraxas); Ron Kavana, 73, Irish singer-songwriter.

3: Jim Mills, 57, American banjo player (Kentucky Thunder), heart attack.

2: Gary Floyd, 71, American singer (Dicks, Sister Double Happiness); Praveen Kumar, 28, Indian composer (Raakadhan); John Pisano, 93, American jazz guitarist.[

1: Hasna El-Bacharia, 74, Algerian musician; Richard Maloof, 84, American musician (Les Brown, Lawrence Welk); Uma Ramanan*, 69, Indian playback singer; Richard Tandy, 76, English Hall of Fame musician (Electric Light Orchestra, The Move).


Photo: Steve Albini

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