Tim Smith, the lead singer of British rock band the Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59.
While no specific details of his death have been released, Smith has been battling illness for a number of years after he suffered a rare neurological disorder dystonia in 2008.
Smith’s illness, which affected both his movement and speech, was the result of a heart attack he suffered many years ago. The musician’s deterioration of health meant that he was forced to step away from the band who have been on indefinite hiatus since his 2008 hospitalisation.
The band leader, who was born in Surrey in 1961, began his musical career in 1975 when he became the lead guitarist in a group with a host of school friends. In a project which sparked something new in him, Smith went on to form the Cardiacs alongside his brother James Smith, Michael Pugh and Peter Tagg just two years later.
The group, which was originally named Cardiac Arrest, went on to enjoy cult success and released eight studio albums and one live record. “We are not a progressive rock band, progressive rock bands usually tend to have a particular style to them, however individual the bands sound is, there is usually a flavour there which is the prog flavour,” Smith once said of the band. “We are a pop group…We are as punky as nothing. God forbid if anyone thought that we were a crazy ‘fusion’ of punk and prog. If a word is needed then I would use ‘psychedelic’ if anything.”
With a clear direction of the sound he wanted to create, Smith added: “Think about what pop music is, and where it has been, the things and changes that it has gone through, however ridiculous. All pop is ridiculous and fantastic. Who is to say that you can’t do whatever you like with it when you look at its history?”
The band went on to solidify their presence in the rock music scene, becoming famed for their complex and uncompromising style. With a lot of hype leading surrounding the band in the 1980s, the Cardiacs began turning their live shows into a unique and truly unforgettable experience: “A lot of people find our act disturbing because it brings out something in you that a lot of people won’t admit to. It’s the weirdness in everyone whether you like it or not,” Smith once said. “Some people think it’s dead funny, wonderful, beautiful, genius, and others hate it. It’s strange when people hate us – they really do hate us, it brings out something odd in people.”