Co-founder Hamish Kilgour of New Zealand band Clean dies aged 65

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The beloved rock group the Clean was co-founded by New Zealand musician Hamish Kilgour, who passed away at age 65. The drummer’s body was found there yesterday after being last seen in a mall in Christchurch, where he had been reported missing the previous week (December 5). No cause of death has been made public.

Co-founder Hamish Kilgour of New Zealand band the Clean dies aged 65

In Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1978, Hamish and his brother David founded the Clean. Their first hit, ‘Tally Ho!’ from 1981, helped define the “Dunedin Sound” and made the fledgling independent label Flying Nun famous. Before going on break, the band put out two EPs, Boodle Boodle Boodle and Great Sounds Great… Before joining forces with the Clean again in the late 1980s and working on the In-A-Live EP with bassist Robert Scott, the Kilgour brothers released experimental music under the name The Great Unwashed. The Clean released their first true full-length album, Vehicle, in 1990 on Flying Nun/Rough Trade. They then released Modern Rock in 1995 and Unknown Country in 1996.

Hamish and Lisa Siegel established the Mad Scene after arriving in New York City. They released a number of albums, such as A Trip Thru Monsterland in 1993, Sealight in 1995, Chinese Honey in 1996, and Blip in 2012, which was created by Sonic Boom. The Clean reformed in 2000 and released another album, Getaway, the following year as their impact could be heard in a new generation of American indie rock bands like Pavement, Superchunk, and Guided by Voices. Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo and Mac McCaughan of Superchunk all contributed to the album, which was released on the independent label Merge. The career-spanning Anthology was released in 2003 by Flying Nun and Merge. 2009’s Mister Pop was the Clean’s most recent album.

Hamish’s first solo album, All of It and Nothing, was released in 2014; it was followed by Finklestein four years later. 2017 saw the induction of The Clean into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

“With very heavy hearts, we can confirm that Hamish Kilgour has passed away in his home country of New Zealand,” Merge Records said in a statement, continuing:

As a founding member of the Clean, with his brother, David, and Robert Scott, Hamish produced one of the most important and timeless bodies of work in rock music. As a drummer, Hamish had a propulsive, instantly recognizable style and an understated power; he was a joy to watch play. Hamish was one of the most colorful and creative musicians we have been lucky to work with, both as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with the group he started with Lisa Siegel, the Mad Scene, and, of course, with the Clean. Hamish was also an accomplished visual artist, and his fantastical drawings adorn many record sleeves.

We feel lucky to have known him. Our thoughts are with his family and his fellow members of the New Zealand music community. Save travels, Hamish.