Steve Albini: US indie-music giant dies at 61

Steve Albini of Shellac performs on stage during day three of Primavera Sound Madrid 2023 on June 10, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.
Steve Albini had been preparing to release the new album by his band Shellac [Getty Images]

US musician and producer Steve Albini, who was known for his work with acts including Nirvana, the Pixies and PJ Harvey, has died at the age of 61.

Albini was an instrumental and uncompromising figure in the US indie scene in the 1980s and 90s, leading bands including Big Black and Shellac.

His influence was also heard on the several thousand albums he produced and engineered.

They included the Pixies' seminal LP Surfer Rosa and Nirvana's In Utero.

Kurt Cobain recruited Albini to record the 1993 follow-up to Nirvana's hugely successful Nevermind after being impressed by his work with Big Black, the Pixies and The Breeders.

However, Albini was originally no fan of Nirvana, believing them to be an unremarkable version of the Seattle sound.

American musician and producer Steve Albini in the 'A' control room of his studio, Electrical Audio, Chicago, Illinois, June 24, 2005.
Albini pictured in his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago in 2005 [Getty Images]

He reportedly agreed to work with them because he felt sorry for them, believing they were at the mercy of their major record label, and wanted to give them a more abrasive sound.

The album's resulting raw feel did not impress the Geffen label, which insisted the singles Heart-Shaped Box and All Apologies were remixed.

In Utero went on to sell five million copies in the US alone, and Albini remarked: "I like it far more than I thought I was going to."

In general, he disliked the title of producer, telling the Guardian last year he preferred to be credited as an engineer because he saw his role as recording a band and not shaping its sound.

He also declined to take royalties, charging only a flat fee because he considered it unethical to make money from an artist's work indefinitely.

He ran his own studio, Electrical Audio, in Chicago, and had been preparing for the release of Shellac's To All Trains, their first album since 2014, on 17 May.