Richard Swift dead aged 41 – tributes pour in for Black Keys and The Shins star

Richard Swift with The Shins Image Credit Wikimedia Commons)

Richard Swift with The Shins (Image Credit Wikimedia Commons)

Black Keys bassist and former member of The Shins has died aged 41, Getintothis’ Lauren Wise reports.

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Richard Swift has passed away in Tacoma, Washington.

His death was confirmed in a Facebook post on his page, which said: “And all the angels sing “Que Sera Sera” Richard Ochoa Swift March 16, 1977 – July 3, 2018.”

Swift was hospitalised last month.

Although possibly best known for his time as The Shins drummer between 2011-2016, he performed with The Black Keys as their touring bassist, as well as releasing his own music.

Swift was also drummer for The Arcs and earlier in his career played keyboards for Starflyer 59. As a producer he worked with Foxygen, Guster, the Mynabirds, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado and Pure Bathing Culture and more.

He founded his own recording studio in Oregon called National Freedom.

Black Keys bandmate Dan Auerbach posted on Instagram: “Today the world lost one of the most talented musician I know” adding “I will miss you my friend.”

Other musicians also paid tribute and shared their memories of working with Swift.

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The following statement was released by indie-label Secretly Canadian.

“We are heartbroken today to have lost our dear friend, collaborator and artist Richard Swift. He passed in the early hours of this morning.

From the moment he first came into our lives in the fall of 2004, it was clear he was a rarefied soul. It was Thanksgiving week in the Midwest. We were in Indianapolis with Jens Lekman, excited to be hosting our Swedish friend on his first trip to the States. At the tail end of a string of Midwest tour dates we had a pit stop at Luna Music where Jens did an in-store performance. As we were browsing the CD racks there was one that stood out amongst the rest; it was a double-wide fatty 2xCD with a black & white picture of a man that had the mop of Dylan and the look of Cohen. In hand-laid typeface it said “The Novelist by Richard Swift”. It was perfect. I bought it. Ben, Jens & I listened to it front to back — both discs — on the trip back to Bloomington. It was made by a lover of records, effortlessly meandering through the history of recorded music, fusing sounds from so many eras, his beautiful words ceding pole position to the beautiful sounds, textures and feelings of a man who — we’d soon learn — was steeped deeply in them. It was magic.

His wit, irreverence, talent, and most of all his understanding of true beauty was immeasurable. That loss will leave a gaping hole in our world from this moment on. We are thankful he burned as bright as he did, and was as productive as he was, during his time with us. Swift belongs in the canon of urgent, raw American art — alongside his heroes like Walt Whitman, Bo Diddley, Captain Beefheart and Kerouac. Through his music, illustrations, photography and poetry, he created a complex, caustic and, more often than not, devastatingly funny personal language and mythology. As a visionary producer, he turned his Cottage Grove, Ore. studio, National Freedom, into a harbor of artistic liberation for all measure of musician. Secretly Group family such Damien Jurado, Foxygen, Lonnie Holley, Kevin Morby, Alex Cameron, Sharon Van Etten, Gardens & Villa, Cayucas, and Trevor Sensor have all created landmark recordings under the talents of Swift. To be allowed entry into this singular Swift universe, to become a part of Swift’s tapestry, his poem, is as close to real magic as you can get.

Looking back now, I see that we found a friend in the bins that day in Indianapolis. His family, friends, music community and everyone who loved him are in our thoughts. Fingerpaint with the blackest ink you can get your mitts into today.”

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A memorial fund has now been set up to help Richard Swift‘s family pay for the medical costs here.




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