Jason Molina, the musician behind beloved indie-rock outfits Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., died from organ failure on Saturday at his home in Indianapolis. He was 39.
Molina’s death, Chunklet reports, was caused by years of alcohol abuse, which the musician had been dealing with publicly. Molina’s last few years included numerous stints in rehab centers in America and England, and Pitchfork reports that his family members had set up a fund in 2011 for fans wanting to contribute to his medical costs.
In May of last year, Molina posted a statement on Magnolia Electric Co.’s website acknowledging his struggle but letting fans know that he was improving. It was his last public comment about his health:
Treatment is good, getting to deal with a lot of things that even the music didn’t want to. I have not given up because you, my friends have not given up on me. I do still need your support however that takes shape, good vibes are worth more than you might think.
Molina released his most recent album in 2012, the solo effort Autumn Bird Songs. His body of work includes more than two decades of music created under various names – most of it released on his longtime label, Secretly Canadian.
The label issued an emotional statement on its website; you can read it in full below:
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 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.