R.I.P. Jason Molina
Published Mar 18, 2013Following a documented battle with alcoholism, Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. leader Jason Molina has reportedly succumbed to the disease. While an official statement has yet to arrive from the Molina camp or his label Secretly Canadian, Chunklet reports the prolific songwriter died on Saturday (March 16) "from a body that had been drowned in alcohol for years on end." He was 39.
Molina's health troubles made the headlines in 2011, when a press release noted the singer-songwriter had been in and out of various hospitals and rehab centres, noting that it had been "a very trying time for Jason, his friends, and his family."
A fund had been set up to pay for his medical bills, but the statement explained positively that his friends "feel very encouraged by the recent steps Jason has taken on the road towards becoming healthy and productive once again," and added that Molina had been working on a farm in West Virginia.
Ohio-bred Molina started up Songs: Ohia in the mid-'90s, treading the waters between lo-fi folk and alt-country, releasing countless singles and nearly a dozen full-length LPs. The project's final LP, 2003's The Magnolia Electric Co., marked a new direction for the artist, and he soon put together the country rock-flecked band of the same name.
That act issued five LPs between 2005 and 2009. Molina's final release was last year's Autumn Bird Songs solo EP.
UPDATE: Following the tragic news of Molina's passing, Secretly Canadian has shared the following heartfelt message:
We are deeply saddened to announce that Jason Andrew Molina passed away in his home in Indianapolis this past Saturday, March 16th of natural causes at age 39. Jason was a world class musician, songwriter & recording artist. He was also a beloved friend. He first caught international attention in 1996 when he began releasing albums under the name Songs: Ohia. In 2003 he started the band Magnolia Electric Co. Between those two bands he released over a dozen critically-acclaimed albums and — starting in 1997 — he toured the world every year until he had to stop in 2009 to deal with severe alcoholism. Jason was incredibly humbled by his fans' support through the years and said that the two most important words he could ever say are "Thank you."
This is especially hard for us to share. Jason is the cornerstone of Secretly Canadian. Without him there would be no us — plain and simple. His singular, stirring body of work is the foundation upon which all else has been constructed. After hearing and falling in love with the mysterious voice on his debut single "Soul" in early 1996, we approached him about releasing a single on our newly formed label. For some reason he said yes. We drove from Indiana to New York to meet him in person, and he handed us what would become the first of many JMo master tapes. And with the Songs: Ohia One Pronunciation of Glory 7" we were given a voice as a label. The subsequent self-titled debut was often referred to by fans as The Black Album. Each Songs: Ohia album to follow proved a new, haunting thesis statement from a prodigal songwriter whose voice and soul burned far beyond that of the average twenty-something. There was organ-laced, sepia-toned econimica (1998's Impala) and charred-hearted, free form balladry (1999's Axxess and Ace). There were the dark glacial make-out epics of 2000's The Lioness and the jungle incantations of 2000's Ghost Tropic. There was the career-defining agnostic's gospel of 2002's Didn't It Rain, an album about setting roots that also seemed to offer solace to a world that had recently seen its bar on terror raised. It was followed in 2003 by a thrilling about-face, the instant classic Magnolia Electric Co., which took Jason's songwriting to '70s classic rock heights. The move was such a powerful moment for Molina that Magnolia Electric Co. became the new moniker under which he would perform until 2009. With Magnolia Electric Co., Jason found a brotherhood in his bandmates, with whom he built an incredible live experience and made a truly classic album in Josephine (2009).
We're going to miss Jason. He was generous. He was a one of a kind. And he had a voice unlike any other.
Fans can contribute to Jason's medical fund as a memorial gift by sending money via PayPal.