Rockabilly Guitarist Nick Curran Passes Away Aged 35
Guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Nick Curran
passed away on Saturday, October 6th, at his home in Austin, Texas,
it was announced by his management. He was 35 years old.
Curran was a powerhouse performer who drew inspiration from the
blues and rockabilly artists of the 50's and became renowned for
his uncanny knack of authentically recreating the feel, vibe, and
swagger of classic R&B and rock.
He cut his teeth playing with rockabilly legends Ronnie
Dawson and Kim Lenz. A native of Maine,
Curran moved to Dallas and immersed himself in the Texas roots
music scene, eventually releasing two albums on the Texas Jamboree
label, Fixin' Your Head and Nitelife Boogie. As he would do
on all his albums, Curran used vintage recording equipment and a
one take technique to achieve not only the sound but also the feel
of vintage 45s.
His national debut, 'Doctor Velvet on Blind Pig,' was
released in 2003 to critical acclaim, with a number of publications
calling it the album of the year. It also attracted
international attention with rave reviews in the U.K. and Germany
and a "Best New International Blues Artist" award in
Meanwhile, Nick and his band, the Nitelifes,
were generating an ever-growing buzz with their head-turning
performances at festivals and clubs across the country, including a
stunning performance at the 2003 San Francisco Blues
Festival. Calling him a "don't miss
performer," Blues Revue said, "Internet discussion boards are
shot through with postings and excited conversations by stunned
people who just saw Nick and his band for the first time."
A twenty-first century hybrid of Little Richard
and T-Bone Walker, Curran displayed a veteran's
mastery of the nuances of roots rock and blues idioms, yet did it
in such a way that made the familiar sound startlingly new.
With his raw, powerful voice and stinging guitar, he quickly
established himself as one of the freshest, most exciting new
talents on the scene.
Doctor Velvet included guest appearances by
Curran admirer Jimmie Vaughan (who called him "just a total
ass-kicker"). The album went on to win the W.C. Handy
Award, blues music's most prestigious award, for "Best New
Artist Debut." Nick Curran and the Nitelifes released their
second Blind Pig album, Player!, in 2004 but the band broke up
shortly afterward when Nick was asked to join Kim Wilson's
latest reincarnation of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, just in time to
record the band's Painted On release.
He toured with the T-Birds for three years, and
also worked on side projects such as Deguello, a blues/punk combo
he formed with another T-Bird alum, Ronnie James, and a punk/rock
'n' roll band named The Flash Boys. In 2008 he performed four
songs in a scene in the HBO Series "True Blood."
His last album, 'Reform School Girl,' was released in
2010 on the Eclectro Groove
label. That year he was also diagnosed with oral cancer,
and had been undergoing treatment until succumbing over the
Blind Pig executive Edward Chmelewski said,
"We were all very saddened to hear the news of Nick's
death. He was an extremely talented musician and a very sweet
guy. A truly gifted artist, he captured a golden musical
moment in time and made it his own."