David Roback, the producer and multi-instrumentalist who co-founded Mazzy Star, has died. A cause of death has not yet been revealed, but a band representative confirmed Roback’s passing. He was 61 years old.
Before launching Mazzy Star alongside Hope Sandoval, Roback was a major figure in the Californian Paisley Underground movement of the ’80s. He and his brother, Steven, were behind the psychedelic revival act Rain Parade, which David left after their only album, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip. In 1983, he formed Clay Allison with ex-Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith, whom he was dating at the time.
Shortly before the release of their 1987 debut album, Happy Nightmare Baby, the group switched their name to Opal. It’s this project that is seen as a precursor to Mazzy Star’s droning, folk-influenced style. In fact, Sandoval first worked with Roback as a replacement for Smith, who left Opal while the band was in the middle of a tour.
At first, Sandoval and Roback were set to continue as Opal, even touring under the project name for two more years. However, when they set about to record a new LP tentatively titled Ghost Highway, Sandoval wasn’t satisfied with the material, which had been mainly written by Roback and Smith before the latter had departed. Instead, Roback and Sandoval decamped to San Francisco’s Hyde Street Studios to write and record what became Mazzy Star’s debut album, She Hangs Brightly.
Following that 1990 effort, the band would go on to record three more full-lengths: 1993’s So Tonight That I Might See, 1996’s Among My Swan, and 2013’s Seasons of Your Day. Their final release was 2018’s Still EP, which was partially recorded with Mazzy Star’s late drummer, Keith Mitchell, prior to his passing in 2017.