The Pixies, Jack White and more react to producer Steve Albini’s death

Steve Albini, a rock musician and legendary producer, died on Tuesday, May 7 from a heart attack. He was 61 years old. 

Albini formed his first band, Big Black, in 1981. He also sang and played guitar in the ’90s noise-rock band Shellac, which is scheduled to release its sixth studio album, To All Trains, on May 17. But his most notable work was in producing and engineering “some of the greatest alternative rock albums of all time,” as Rolling Stone notes. (Throughout his career, he preferred the title “engineer” or “producing engineer” as opposed to “producer.”)

He was best known for his work on Nirvana’s third and final album, 1993’s In Utero; the Pixies’ 1988 album Surfer Rosa; PJ Harvey’s 1993 sophomore release Rid of Me and other works by the Jesus Lizard, Superchunk and Low. He also produced records by Canadian artists Thrush Hermit, the Sadies, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Metz and Ken Mode. 

While Albini continued to produce and engineer until his death, most recently working on records by metal bands Code Orange and Liturgy and rock artists like Laura Jane Grace and Black Midi, the Chicago-based figure will be most remembered for shaping the alternative rock sound of the ’90s. 

Below are reactions to Albini’s death and tributes to his musical legacy from musicians, journalists, friends and admirers. 

George Strombolopolous called Albini “a custodian of original intent.”

The Pixies, who worked with Albini on albums including 1988’s Surfer Rosa and 1997’s Death to the Pixies, shared a brief tribute. 

Jack White also kept it brief, posting a photo of a young Albini. 

Winnipeg metal act Ken Mode, whose 2015 album Success was produced by Albini (and earned them a Juno Award nomination for heavy metal album of the year), said it was “a dream come true” to make a record with him. 

Toronto rock band Metz, who worked with Albini on their 2017 album Strange Peace, paid tribute in an Instagram post. “His approach to making records/music was an inspiration to so many and his body of work is truly second to none,” the band wrote. “He was infamously acerbic and outspoken, uncompromising, and deeply funny.”

Journalist Ann Powers looks back at his legacy, referring to him as a “titan.” 

Former CBC Music host Raina Douris recalls an interview she did with Albini last year for NPR’s World Cafe.

Toronto rockers F–ked Up praised Albini even though, according to the post, he “hated our band.” 

Robin Hatch, who has toured with F–ked Up, Our Lady Peace and Porno For Pyros, called Albini the “greatest producer of alternative rock.”

Jarvis Cocker, who teamed up with Albini on his 2009 album Further Complications, posted a photo of Albini’s Chicago studio, noting that working with him “was an education in many ways: the technical aspects of recording sound, for sure — but also lessons in how to live & work at making music without being destroyed by the Music Business.” 

Superchunk and Mountain Goats drummer Jon Wurster shared a sweet memory of Albini.

Wurster’s  Superchunkbandmate Mac McCaughan wrote a heartfelt tribute. “In all of our working with him, Steve was not particularly interested in 2 things the music industry is obsessed with — credit and money,” McCaughan said. “He recommended we *not* put his name on our record because he said it would turn off as many people as it would interest. What he *was* interested in was helping people document their art and make it sound real. He was generous with his time and knowledge and humor and a real mentor to lots of bands and engineers.” 

Metro, a music venue in Chicago where Albini owned and operated his Electrical Audio studio, paid tribute to him on their marquee. 

Comedian and musician Fred Armisen pointed out Albini’s sense of humour. 

Comedian and podcaster Marc Maron reshared an interview he did with Albini back in 2015.