Shawn Smith, the soulful singer who was a legend in the Seattle music scene, died yesterday at age 53. I first encountered Shawn's voice in the early-1990s by way of Greg Dulli's bands the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers. But Smith's influence on the Seattle music scene, and rock in general, dates back to the mid-1980s when he was part of the tight-knit community of musicians that birthed Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.
Eerily, April 5 was the anniversary of the deaths of Seattle singers Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and Layne Staley (Alice in Chains).
My condolences to Smith's son, family, friends, and the Seattle music community that adored him. From the Seattle Times:
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In recent weeks, Smith was working on a new album with the band Brad, which he founded in 1992 with Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, drummer Regan Hagar and bassist Jeremy Toback. They were recording at Studio Litho, owned by Gossard.
Born in Spokane, Smith came to Seattle in 1987, and formed a band called Malfunkshun with Hagar and Kevin and Andrew Wood (who would go on to form Mother Love Bone with Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament).
In 1992, he released his first solo album under the name Pigeonhed. That same year, Brad released its first album, “Shame” in 1993. The band would put out four albums, including “Interiors,” which features one of Smith’s best-known songs, “The Day Brings.”
He made two records with the band Satchel, and appeared on The Afghan Whigs’ album “Black Love,” as well as Whigs founder Greg Dulli’s solo album.