Tuesday, December 29, 2009

R.I.P. Vic Chestnutt

In the midst of holiday travel and lack of wireless access, I failed to hear the tragic news of the death of singer/songwriter Vic Chestnutt on Christmas day. The Athens, Georgia based Chestnutt, never acquired household-name status but was nonetheless deserving of it. Chestnutt was involved in a terrible car accident when he was just 18 years-old that left him paraplegic and wheelchair-bound for the remainder of his life. Despite this, he went on to become a well-known and respected solo artist. Chestnutt's medical situation often left him depressed and many of his songs dealt with dark subject matter. He was first discovered playing local gigs in Athens by Michael Stipe (of R.E.M.) who would go on to produce Chestnutt's first two albums, Little (1990) and West of Rome (1991). Chestnutt was also the subject of a PBS documentary called Speed Racer and played a small role beside Billy Bob Thornton in the movie Sling Blade. In the end, Chestnutt's depression and mounting medical bills proved to be too much for him. He died on Christmas day after slipping into a coma induced by an overdose of muscle relaxants. Chestnutt was 45.

Michael Stipe released a statement concerning Chestnutt's death and said, "He was able to bring levity to very dark emotions and feelings, and he had a humor that was really quite unusual. I recently said that I thought he was one of our greatest songwriters, and one of our greatest voices."

For a breathtaking performance of Chestnutt on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts click here. For more Chestnutt see the video below.

1 comment:

  1. saw him open for jonathan richman this year. great show. this is truly a loss.