Bill Doss, co-leader of indie psych cult heroes The Olivia Tremor Control, died on July 30th at age 43. Gabe Vodicka of Athens’ Flagpole broke the news on twitter (below), followed by further confirmation tweets from friends (also below) and the group’s website. The latter now simply states, “We are devastated by the loss of our brother Bill Doss. We are at a loss for words.”
Bill also led his own band, The Sunshine Fix, and in 2006 he joined The Apples in Stereo (after an Apples gig in 2007 I was pleased to briefly meet him whereupon he kindly answered a few of my music dork questions). Starting as a side project with cassette-only A Spiraling World of Pop, The Sunshine Fix released their proper debut album almost a decade later, 2002’s Age Of The Sun. It was followed in 2004 with Green Imagination. Also a co-founder of the legendary Elephant 6 music collective (the group of friends and music enthusiasts that bred the above mentioned groups as well as Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah, Elf Power, of Montreal and MANY more), Bill’s impact on indie rock – especially its psych corners – is unmeasurable. He, his music and his imagination will be deeply missed.
The Olivia Tremor Control posted on facebook, “In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make donations to Nuci’s Space, a local musician support & resource center.” nuci.org/help
Flagpole is compiling a tribute for next week’s paper and requests anecdotes about Bill’s life and music (send them to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 2nd).
There will be a celebration of Bill Doss’ life this Saturday 8/4 from 2-4pm at the 40 Watt Club, 285 West Washington St. Athens.
Flaming Lip Kliph Scurlock responded to the loss on facebook today and twitter. First he simply posted “R.I.P. Bill Doss. God damnit!,” but soon followed it with a beautiful story of his experience during the Age of The Sun recording sessions:
“One of the funnest afternoons of my life happened in the summer of 2000. The Lips had a day off in Athens and I was hanging out with my dear friend Jackie Lyons Burton. We went over to Bill Doss’s house, where he was working on this song….
He asked if I’d play a quick scratch drum track so he could start the overdubbing process. I was thrilled to do it as I loved Bill and the songs he wrote. We then jammed for a while and sat around listening to records for a few hours. We got stuck on this thing where we were trying to call up all the versions of “Hey Joe” that had been recorded by garage rock bands in the 60’s. Steven Drozd came over and called us dorks. A few months later, Bill called and asked if it was okay to use my drum track on the record. Trying to be Mr. Cool, I said, “sure. Just send me a few copies.” I don’t think I ever told him how honored I was to be on his record and how much fun I had had that day. I also don’t think I ever told him how much I loved him. R.I.P. Bill. Thank you for being such a wonderful person and a great friend and a fabulous songwriter. I love you and will miss you.”
The Apples in Stereo’s Robert Schneider “Missing Bill so much. It is one of the greatest honors of my life to have known him, and to have had the opportunity to record with him– beginning with my first four-track recording that Bill and I recorded together at the Ruston High School covered bus stop in 1986 (where we had privacy on the weekend, and an AC power outlet)… Here is one of my favorites of his many amazing songs (and I think one of my best productions)…”
Prior his pair of proper Sunshine Fix albums Bill made two of the coolest albums of the ’90s with The Olivia Tremor Control. They essentially vanished for a full decade but reappeared in October 2010 with their first new track since 2000, “North Term Reality” – a noise track for AUX Vol. 2. It wasn’t a full return to form – “North Term Reality” isn’t even a song, really – though it suited the nature of the compilation and its limited release (only 250 copies, each with hand-printed silkscreen on archival paper).
Last fall they reunited for live shows in addition to their proper studio comeback – “The Game You Play Is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2, & 3,” their first true song since the’90s. The video above contains both “The Game You Play” (0:00) and “North Term Reality” (5:17). This year the band played additional (well-received) shows and was in a general upswing as they worked on their reunion album. Bill played in fine form on July 13, 2012 at Pitchfork Music Festival with Olivia Tremor Control. Pro-shot footage of their entire P4k set (well, almost all of it) can be watched here, and the full set can also be downloaded here. Read about other Olivia’s shows from this past spring here. The band also played Athen’s Georgia Theater on July 26th and on the 28th posted on facebook “Thanks to everyone who came out to our show in Athens. We’ll be taking a break from touring this fall while we record our next album. Stay tuned updates from the studio!” The cause of death is unreported and out of repsect for Bill’s family it is being kept a private matter.
In the wake of this loss musicians and fans are responding on social media and blogs. A loving memoriam from one of his friends is here; Pitchfork writer Joe Tangari wrote a eulogy on his personal tumblr, Every Great Song Ever; and many others have tweeted condolences (to the extent of “trending” his name):