Memphis punk rocker Jay Reatard, known for performing shows and releasing singles at a breakneck pace, has died. He was 29.
Memphis police said Reatard — whose given name was Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr. — was found dead in his bed early Wednesday. Police are investigating the death, but police spokeswoman Jennifer Robinson said foul play is not necessarily suspected.
Friends of Reatard's told The Commercial Appeal that the singer had been complaining of flulike symptoms. An autopsy was performed on Wednesday and the results are pending.
Reatard started recording songs in his bedroom as a teenager and was playing Memphis clubs by age 15. Soon after, local independent label Goner Records began releasing his singles. He would go on to release more than 70 records, with some of the rarer ones now fetching hundreds of dollars on eBay.
He also gained a reputation for raucous, fast-paced live performances with acts the Reatards and the Lost Sounds, before recording and performing under the solo moniker Jay Reatard.
According to his biography on the Matador Records Web site, "Shows frequently featured 18 songs (or more) in 25 minutes (or less), often running through his catalog at double or triple speed, and announcing the next song title before the first song ended."
Reatard was beginning to find mainstream success. Beck asked him to record a cover of Beck's "Gamma Ray" to be used as the B-side of the original and to open one of the star's Los Angeles performances, the Matador biography said.
Reatard had recently signed a multi-album contract with the revered indie label after being courted by major labels Universal and Columbia. He released the album "Watch me Fall" on Matador in August to positive reviews.
Just before its release, Reatard was profiled in The New York Times. Speaking of his "rough, spontaneous" recording style, he said, "'I'm just trying to get the idea out before the inspiration is gone. Everything I do is motivated by the fear of running out of time.'"
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