Born on April 4, 1958, Roback was a Los Angeles native who attended Palisades Charter High School, and studied at Stanford and entering the world of music. A cause of death was not immediately given.
Roback co-created Mazzy Star, a popular alternative rock band in Los Angeles with Hope Sandoval, in 1990. Their first album, She Hangs Brightly, was released that same year, and in 1993, they had their biggest hit, “Fade Into You,” which was featured on their second album, So Tonight That I Might See.
Mazzy Star’s third album, Among My Swan, was released in 1996, and after a long hiatus, their fourth album, Seasons of Your Day, was released in 2013, before the band went on an extended hiatus.
Here’s what you need to know about David Roback:
1. Mazzy Star Released Their 4th EP In 2018
Prior to forming Mazzy Star, Roback played in numerous different bands. He first partnered up with Dream Syndicate’s Kendra Smith to form the band Opal, but after she left in the middle of a tour, Roback picked Sandoval to be her replacement. Soon after, Mazzy Star was born.
In 2018, Mazzy Star released an EP entitled Still, a four-track set which included the songs, “Quiet, The Winter Harbor,” “That Way Again,” “Still,” and the acoustic “So Tonight That I Might See.”
Roback insisted to The Guardian that the band never broke up. “We hang out a lot. We always have. And we hang out, we make music. Maybe, for musicians, it’s common to release things more frequently than we do. [We’re] like other types of artist. They make their sculpture or painting, they write books or poems, and whether they have an exhibition is almost irrelevant.”
2. Roback Was A Notoriously Private Person
In a rare interview with The Guardian, Roback said, “I was fairly different from the other kids, I didn’t get on with them. We didn’t have many common interests. My hobbies were psychiatry and history… I’d psychoanalyze my friends.”
After he and Sandoval found success with their debut album, Roback wasn’t into be referenced as the hot new thing and hated doing press. “I think a lot of it is frivolous. It’s like being popular at school. What does being popular at school mean? It means nothing.”
Sandoval agreed. “Interviews are difficult,” she says now. “Performing live is difficult. But… nobody’s forcing us to do it.”
3. Mazzy Star’s Drummer Keith Mitchell Died In 2017
Sadly, Roback is not the first member of Mazzy Star to leave this world. Keith Mitchell, the band’s longtime drummer died in May 2015.
Roback and Sandoval put out the following statement following his death: “Our hearts are broken. We have lost the much beloved Keith Mitchell, a very talented and amazing drummer that we have had the privilege to work with for many years, he will live in all of our hearts forever… We’ll miss you Big Fella.”
4. Sandoval Felt Like ‘The Luckiest Person Ever’ To Team Up With Roback
In a 2009 interview with The Quietus, Sandoval opened up about what it was like forming Mazzy Star with Roback. The singer recalled the day he first called her after listening to the demo tape she sent of her band, Going Home, which she had formed with a high-school friend, Sylvia Gomez.
“I could not believe that he wanted to join our band. He called me and said: ‘I really love your music, and I want to play guitar for you guys.’
“David definitely knew more about music and equipment than me,” said Sandoval. “He knew more about the Velvet Underground; I didn’t really know their music. Sylvia was really into them and I was always saying: ‘Turn that off: it’s too noisy’. But when I started working with David, he turned me on to them. I liked modern stuff like Soul II Soul, along with Syd Barrett and the Rolling Stones. So it worked, even though we were coming from different places.”
5. Heartfelt Tributes To Roback Were Shared On Twitter
While Roback was largely known as being a part of the Paisley Underground, the psych revival scene on Los Angeles, in the early ’80s, once “Fade Into You,” blew up, his talents became more widely known to the general public.
News of his seemingly untimely death was met with heartbreak, and Twitter filled with tribute messages from fans and fellow artists, all dedicated to the talented guitarist.
Carl Newman tweeted, “This is awful. From Rain Parade to Clay Allison to Rainy Day to Opal to Mazzy Star, I’ve loved everything he’s ever been a part of. Have you ever listened to Opal’s ‘Happy Nightmare Baby’ LP? You should. RIP David Roback.”
Vivian Gucwa shared, “Sad to hear about the passing of David Roback. Mazzy Star has had a profound influence on my life + art ever since I first heard their music in the 90s. Into Dust (one of my favorites of all time).”