Artist News

Cardiacs frontman Tim Smith dies

By | Published on Thursday 23 July 2020


Tim Smith, frontman of Cardiacs, has died aged 59, it was announced yesterday.

In a statement on the band’s website, Smith’s brother and bandmate Jim writes: “I’m sorry, on such a glorious day, to tell you the news that my dearest brother Tim passed away suddenly last night. Sorry it’s a brief message but I don’t have it in me to speak at length just now”.

Smith had been in poor health for some time. In 2008, on the way home from a night out, he had a heart attack that triggered a stroke. A second stroke in hospital left him paralysed down one side of his body and unable to speak. He was able to recover somewhat, but developed neurological disorder dystonia.

The manager of Cardiacs’ record label, Alphabet Business Concern’s Mary Wren, says in another statement: “Despite the struggles Tim faced over the last twelve years, we all somehow felt he would never leave us. This is, in part, because he looked at death square in the face, with his good and true eye, so many times and won. It was also wishful thinking, though, because we knew the abyss-like hole he would leave in all our lives”.

“At this time, we are comforted by the fact that he left us quietly, albeit suddenly, and that no monsters got their filthy claws in him while we weren’t looking – when we were looking, they didn’t stand a chance”, she continues. “His fans adored him. He changed people for the better. He saved lives. His music was a refuge for those in need and he never locked his door or turned anyone away. I feel as if church bells across the land should be ringing out his name”.

Formed in 1977 by Tim and Jim Smith – with the brothers the only constant in a regularly changing line-up – Cardiacs’ absurdist art-rock songs were known for polarising audiences and critics alike. However, while that fact meant they never became a household name, the band were cited as influential by a very broad range of other acts, including Radiohead, Blur, Faith No More, Franz Ferdinand, The Divine Comedy, Korn, Biffy Clyro, Napalm Death, Battles, Tool, Marillion and more.

The band released nine albums between 1980 and 1999, but a tenth album was never finished and live activity became sporadic after the turn of the century. Their last new release was the single ‘Ditzy Scene’ in 2007.

After his heart attack, various bands took part in tributes to Smith, including at a number of editions of the Alphabet Business Convention – an event devised to “celebrate the genius of Tim Smith”.