Steve Albini, Legendary Engineer/Producer of Nirvana, Pixies Albums, Dies at 61

Steve Albini, the legendarily exacting producer/engineer and frontman of the noisesome indie rock bands Shellac and Big Black has died at 61. According to a staff member at Albini’s Electric Audio Recordings studio in Chicago, Albini died of a heart attack on Tuesday night (May 7).


Though he disdained the term “producer,” preferring “engineer” instead, Albini said in a 2018 interview that worked on more than 2,000 albums, mostly for underground or indie bands, but also notably on projects by two of the most important and influential bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In addition to recording Nirvana’s final full studio album, 1993’s In Utero, he also worked on the beloved 1988 album Surfer Rosa by one of late Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain’s favorite bands, the Pixies. Constantly toggling between albums by A-list major label acts (PJ Harvey’s lashing 1993 album Rid of Me, Bush’s Razorblade Suitcase) and beloved indie bands from his native Chicago (Urge Overkill, The Jesus Lizard, Tar), Albini was also a prolific musicians in his own right with a series of hardcore and noise bands, including Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac.

Born in Pasadena, Calif. on July 22, 1962, Albini positioned himself as a staunch outsider in the mainstream music industry, which he considered exploitative, refusing to accept the traditional producer royalties for any of the albums he recorded at his Chicago studio.

Shellac were poised to release their first album in a decade, To All Trains, next week, and had booked a series of shows in England in June, followed by a run of U.S. dates in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles in July.

Often working on dozens of albums per year, Albini kept up his torrid pace recently, re-teaming with frequent collaborator folk singer Nina Nastasia in 2022, as well as working on albums by Black Midi, Spare Snare, Liturgy and Code Orange over the past two years.

This story will be updated.

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