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 France.
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 weekend.
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."