Richard Swift, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who released music as a solo artist along with his work as a member of indie-rock powerhouses The Shins, The Black Keys, and The Arcs, has died. Swift was suffering from an undisclosed “life-threatening condition,” and had been in the hospital since last month. The news was officially announced on a post on his Facebook page which read, “And all the angels sing ‘Que Sera Sera.’” He was 41.
Swift spent his youth moving around the country with his family, living everywhere from northern Minnesota to southern Utah; in his early 20s, he moved to Southern California, where he recorded and released two self-produced albums, Walking Without Effort and The Novelist, and briefly played keyboards in alt-rock band Starflyer 59. He then signed to indie label Secretly Canadian, who re-released his first two albums as The Richard Swift Collection,Vol. 1 in 2005. Following the release of his 2007 solo album Dressed Up For the Letdown, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy asked him to open for them on their Sky Blue Sky tour, beginning Swift’s transition to more collaborative and production work.
Following the release of his blue-eyed-soul-influenced 2009 record The Atlantic Ocean—which featured the single “Lady Luck” embedded above—Swift began concentrating on his work as a producer. He worked several times with his Secretly Canadian labelmate Damien Jurado, with whom he released a covers album in 2016, and produced records for Foxygen, Guster, the Mynabirds, Sharon Van Etten, and Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, among others. He was a member of The Shins from 2011 to 2016, performed with The Black Keys as a touring bassist in 2014 and 2015, and played drums in Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach’s side project The Arcs.
Auerbach remembered his friend in an Instagram post earlier today: