Rachel Nagy, the force-of-nature singer and founding member of The Detroit Cobras, the Michigan garage rock outfit, has died.
Bandmate Greg Cartwright broke the sad news on Saturday (Jan. 17) via Detroit Cobras’ social channels. “It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce the loss of our beloved friend and musical colleague, Rachel Lee Nagy,” he writes. “There are no words to fully articulate our grief as we remember a life cut short, still vital and inspirational to all who knew and loved her.”
No cause of death was given.
Nagy co-founded Detroit Cobras back in 1994 with guitarist Mary Ramirez, and “carried the torch of rock, soul and R&B to fans all over the world,” adds Cartwright. “More than just a performer, she embodied the spirit of the music itself and vaulted it to new heights with her own deeply affecting vocal power. I know that I am not alone when I say that I was inspired by her vitality, her fierce intensity and her vulnerability.”
With Nagy up front, the rockers released their debut album, Mink, Rat Or Rabbit, in 1998. Its followup dropped in 2001, Life, Love and Leaving Sympathy for the Record Industry. Nagy and Co. went on to release the Seven Easy Pieces EP in 2004; Baby in 2005 and Tied & True in 2007.
The Detroit Cobra’s music and style was an extension of Motor City. They “specialize in unearthing and reinvigorating the hits, near hits and sometimes total misses from the deep and groovy history of soul, and making them their own,” reads the biog on the official website of Bloodshot Records, which released several of the band’s latter records.
“In both her voice and personality, Rachel Nagy was the perfect balance of tough badass and absolute sweetheart,” reads a statement from Third Man Records, owned by another Detroit scene-builder, Jack White. “From the earliest White Stripes shows at the Magic Stick in Detroit through the Third Man 10th anniversary show in Nashville, Rachel and the Detroit Cobras have been a consistent inspiring presence in our world for nearly 25 years. We will truly miss the sound of her room-filling laughter, her no bullshit honesty, and her true friendship.”
The Detroit Cobras were slated to perform last week at in their hometown’s El Club, but the show was postponed to Feb. 19 due to the COVID-19 surge.