Steve Albini, rock musician and producer behind Nirvana and Pixies albums, dies at 61

CHICAGO (CBS) — Steve Albini, an alt-rock musician, audio engineer, and producer who recorded albums for bands like Nirvana and Pixies and founded the Chicago recording studio Electrical Audio, has died at the age of 61.

Brian Fox, a fellow producer and engineer at Electrical Audio, confirmed Albini passed away Tuesday night from a heart attack.

“We are not ready to make any other statements yet. Maybe in the next few days, we could talk about his impact, which was immense,” Fox said in an email.

Albini’s death came little more than a week before his longtime band Shellac was set to release a new album, To All Trains, on May 17. It will be the band’s first album since 2014.  

Primavera Sound Madrid 2023 - Day 3
Steve Albini of Shellac performs on stage during day 3 of Primavera Sound Madrid 2023 on June 10, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.

Aldara Zarraoa/WireImage

First developing an interest in punk after being introduced to the Ramones as a teen, Albini voraciously consumed all the new music he could find growing up in his hometown of Missoula, Montana, and played in his earliest music projects. After graduating high school, he moved to Evanston, Illinois, to attend journalism school at Northwestern University, immersing himself in the scene as a fan and a writer for local music magazines.

Albini began his music career in 1981 when he formed the punk rock band Big Black while a student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

He later went on to form two other bands, the controversially named Rapeman and Shellac, with the latter the longest-existing and arguably the most important band of his career as a performer. For Shellac, he performed vocals and guitar alongside bassist Bob Weston and drummer Todd Trainer.

He also helped record and track some of the most influential albums of the alternative rock era in the 1980s and 1990s, including Nirvana’s “In Utero,” Pixies’ “Surfer Rosa,” PJ Harvey’s “Rid of Me,” Veruca Salt’s EP “Blow It Out Your A** It’s Veruca Salt,” and multiple albums for Urge Overkill and The Jesus Lizard.

He also helped record music for legends such as Cheap Trick, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and Foo Fighters, who recorded their hit song “Something from Nothing” at his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago.

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