Mazzy Star was one of the ’90s most beloved one-hit-wonder bands, but “Fade into You” remains as one of rock’s most memorable slow songs ever. Guitarist David Roback, who started the group with singer Hope Sandoval, died on Monday at 61. Despite his long history with the band, he kept to himself and didn’t talk much about his music.
His music was a form of shoegaze, or psychedelic rock with a spacy, dreamlike atmosphere. Shoegaze combines an ethereal mixture of obscured vocals, guitar distortion and effects, feedback, and ambient sounds with traditional pop song structures. It’s a style that’s been reimagined by contemporary artists as varied as Lana Del Rey, Beach House, and Dum Dum Girls.
Roback came up in the Southern California psych revival scene in the early Eighties, playing in a string of bands, including Rain Parade and Opal. When Kendra Smith left the band to focus on her solo career, Roback tapped Sandoval as her replacement and changed the name of the group to Mazzy Star.
After a couple of albums, the band seemed to have gone on hiatus around 1997 but then returned with new material in 2011 and 2013. They performed at several concerts over the next few years, but no more studio albums were released. During this period, Sandoval married and had a child. She’s now working on a solo album. But, as the asterisk in the title of this article suggests, questions about what happened to mazzy star are still lingering.