R.I.P. Shawn Smith, singer of Seattle rock band Brad dead at 53

He died due to a torn aorta and high blood pressure

Shawn Smith of Brad
Shawn Smith of Brad, photo via Facebook

    Shawn Smith, the singer of Seattle alt-rock band Brad, has died. He was 53.

    According to Smith’s mother, Shawn died due to a torn aorta and high blood pressure.

    As a musician hailing from Seattle in the early 90s, Smith crossed paths with many other notable rockers. In 1993, through a connection with Sub Pop founder Jonathan Poneman, he partnered with producer Steve Fisk and Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil to release an album as Pigeonhed. He was also an early member of The Twilight Singers, and recorded with Malfunkshun (an early band of late Mother Love Bone singe Andrew Wood).

    But Smith is perhaps best known as singer of Brad, the alt-rock band which also counted Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and drummer Regan Hagar as members. Between 1993 and 2012, Brad released five full-length albums, including 1993’s Shame, 1997’s Interiors (which also featured contributions from Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready), and  2002’s Welcome to Discovery Park. The band’s most recent album, United We Stand, was released in 2012.

    In between Brad’s releases, Smith and Hagar also put out music under the moniker Satchel. A 2005 compilation, Brad vs Satchel, collected unreleased and incomplete tracks from the two outfits.


    In light of Smith’s death, several fellow musicians took to social media to pay tribute. “The gentlest of gentle souls, with a voice that came from the deepest regions of the spirit, I hope he finds peace and rest on his soul’s onward journey,” wrote Posies founder Ken Stringfellow (via Louder).

    Added Alice In Chains bassist Mike Inez, “God speed to our friend Shawn Smith. One of the great Seattle voices. Rest In Peace Brotherman.”

    Smith reportedly passed away on April 5th, a date that’s become synonymous with Seattle’s music scene for all the wrong reasons. Previously, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain passed away on April 5th, 1994, and Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley died on April 5th, 2002.


    Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article reported that Smith died due to complications from diabetes. This was inaccurate, and we apologize for the error.