David Roback of Rain Parade, Opal and Mazzy Star amongst others died of cancer on February 24th. Born in Los Angeles, Roback was a mover and shaker within the Paisley Underground scene in the city in the ’80s with his band the Rain Parade following on from his first band which featured another mover of the scene, Suzannah Hoffs. It was a scene that produced some extraordinary music and for many became a gateway drug to the whole Americana genre.
After one album, ‘Emergency Third Rail Power Trip‘, he quit the Rain Parade to form Opal with Kendra Smith, late of another Paisley group The Dream Syndicate. When Smith left in 1987 Roback recruited Hope Sandoval and Mazzy Star was born. Success followed as Mazzy Star hit a zeitgeist wave in the ’90s over the course of three albums, the most notable of which is 1993’s ‘So Tonight That I Might See’. The single Fade Into You featured heavily on college radio and MTV therefore straddling the commercial and critical divide. At once hip and successful, by the early 2000s they appeared to have faded away only to re-emerge with 2013’s ‘Seasons Of Your Day’ and an EP ‘Still’ in 2018. Roback always maintained that they continued to write throughout this period but just did not release material or perform. This corresponds with his attitude throughout his career towards commercial success “It doesn’t matter how well our records do,” he told The San Diego Union-Tribune in 1990 “none of that matters, because we’re completely free.”
As the Rain Parade were a touchstone for psychedelic Americana with their Byrdsian rhythms and close harmonies so Mazzy Star were also highly influential with their chiming soundscapes and acoustic delicacy, hushed vocals and idiosyncratic songwriting style. An innovator and great talent has been lost.