Artist News Obituaries

Benjamin Curtis 1978-2013

By | Published on Thursday 2 January 2014

Benjamin Curtis

School Of Seven Bells guitarist Benjamin Curtis died at the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York on Sunday, 29 Dec, aged 35.

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1978, and later moving to Dallas, Texas, Curtis’s first appearance as a recording artist was with UFOFU, a band also featuring his brother Brandon. The band released their eponymous debut album in 1997, but split the following year with Curtis going on to play drums for Tripping Daisy, until that outfit split two years later.

In 2000, he formed a new band with his brother, Secret Machines, with whom he recorded two albums before leaving in 2007 to concentrate on School Of Seven Bells, a group he had formed with twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza of On!Air!Library! They released three albums in total, 2008’s ‘Alpinisms’, 2010’s ‘Disconnect For Desire’, and most recently 2012’s ‘Ghostory’, the latter released as a duo after the departure of Claudia.

Curtis was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in February 2013, and immediately received support from many fellow musicians. A number of benefit shows to raise money for his medical treatment were held in the subsequent months, with participating artists including members of The Polyphonic Spree, Interpol, The Strokes, and many others.

After news of Curtis’s death emerged earlier this week, a statement was published on the School Of Seven Bells Facebook page, saying: “While we had hoped to delay this announcement until a more suitable time when his friends and family could feel better prepared and settled to greet any correspondences from folks attempting to reach out, unfortunately the news has prematurely leaked. So we felt it would be appropriate to at least offer an official acknowledgement from us, in light of all the fans who loved and supported Benjamin and his music”.

The statement concluded: “We can’t thank all of you who supported him and his music through the years enough. All of you who attended or participated in the various benefits in and around New York City over the past year since his diagnosis, and of course those who contributed and gave generously to help support him throughout that journey. You made it possible for all of us, and for him, to see how truly loved he was and how many lives he had touched through his music by your gestures. We will all miss this incredibly talented and rare person every day, but we are fortunate enough that he shared with us his music, and that is something that we can keep forever”.

Listen to a playlist of songs compiled by Curtis for CMU in 2010, featuring his own thoughts on some of his favourite music, here.