Dan Sartain, the Alabama-based garage rock singer-songwriter, died on Saturday. His friend and manager Shaun Christie confirmed the news to Pitchfork. No cause of death was disclosed. He was 39 years old.
Sartain grew up in Fairfield, Alabama, before eventually ending up in Birmingham. He fell into a diverse series of musical scenes. “You had to make friends with everyone who was around,” he said in a 2016 interview with Autre. “So that meant that every type of musician was a friend. You’d have to play with Christian ska bands, white blues guys, cock rockers, math rockers, pop punks, crust kids with their blast beats, fake fugazi bands, fake cure bands and literally everyone. We all had to be friends, or at least false friends, to make a difference. “
In the early 2000s he released his first two albums himself: Crimson Guard (2001) and Romance in Stereo (2002). His first real label release was Dan Sartain Vs the Serpientes in 2003, followed by a number of albums in the 00s and 10s.
While Sartain has often been described as a rockabilly musician, he had a combative relationship with the genre and its surrounding subculture. He was once started by a tour opening for Reverend Horton Heat and then gave an interview in which he outlined his problems with the violence and lack of diversity at these shows. “We hated it,” he said. “These people say it’s a lifestyle. What does that mean? Does that mean they’re plucking their teeth with switchblades? It’s 2012. ”
In 2007, Sartain opened for the White Stripes. “Touring with the White Stripes was my Rocky Balboa moment,” he said in an interview with Music Mecca last year. “I was a practically unknown barroom singer and walked the track with the champion. I don’t feel like I’m fit for stadium tours but there have been a few times where we got some good licks. “He released a single on Third Man in 2009.
In 2020, he released the western cover album, Western Hills, and a collection of songs he recorded at Memphis’ legendary Sun Studio. Last summer he released a collaboration with Ganxsta Nip and donated all funds to the Black Lives Matter Global Network.