Iconic indie guitarist
had been praised as this generation’s John Fahey and much more.
By Fred Mills
Philly-based guitarist Jack Rose, who came to fame in the ‘90s
on the Amerindie underground via his work with ambient/drone/noise outfit Pelt,
passed away on Saturday, Dec. 5. The apparent cause of his death was a heart
attack, according to the Philadelphia
Daily News. He was 38.
Word quickly spread over the weekend of Rose’s passing, with
music websites such as Arthur and
Pitchfork.com singing his praises (Arthur posted a number of videos as well). Pitchfork additionally reported that Cory
Rayborn of the Three Lobed label, for whom Rose recorded a number of solo
records, issued a statement, saying, “Jack was a warm, caring person and
was always a pleasure to be around. His larger than life spirit will truly,
truly be missed even moreso than his inspired musical ability. Our deepest
sorrow goes out to his wife.”
In the 2000s Rose further elevated his profile and
reputation as a steel string auteur via albums for Three Lobed, Eclipse, VHF,
Tequila Sunrise and others, typically issuing records on vinyl and
limited-edition CDRs. He frequently garnered glowing comparisons to guitarists such
as John Fahey, Peter Walker and Robbie Basho, excelling in everything from
folk, ragas, ragtime and country blues while demonstrating a strong maverick,
experimental streak. He also worked with a who’s-who of indiedom, including members
of Charlambides, Cul de Sac and Borbetomagus. Rose was sometimes lumped in with
the freak-folk movement – due, no doubt, to his appearance on Devendra Banhart’s
2004 f-f compilation Golden Apples of the
Sun – but as anyone who owns one of his records or saw him play can attest,
Rose was a true American classicist for whom labels or strict genre was
At the time of his death the Thrill Jockey label had already
announced his signing to the label and plans to release Luck in the Valley on Feb. 23.
Rose will be greatly missed and we extend our condolences to
his friends and family.