R.I.P. Bill Doss (Olivia Tremor Control)

Michael Nelson | July 31, 2012 - 1:28 pm

One of the key figures behind the hugely influential Elephant 6 collective, as well as one of the founders of the excellent psychedelic band Olivia Tremor Control, Bill Doss has reportedly passed away. He was 43 years old.

The news first came via tweet from Gabe Vodicka, music editor at the Athens, GA weekly magazine Flagpole. It has been confirmed in an announcement on OTC’s website. At the moment, there are no other details of Doss’s passing.

Doss grew up in Ruston, LA, where he connected with Will Cullen Hart, Robert Schneider, and Jeff Mangum. In 1990, Doss, Hart, and Mangum moved to Athens, where they formed a nascent version of Olivia Tremor Control called Cranberry Life Cycle. Mangum departed, and would later form Neutral Milk Hotel. (Schneider, meanwhile, founded the Apples In Stereo.)

Doss and Hart’s band released a pair of remarkable albums, most notably their 1996 debut, Music From The Unrealized Film Script, Dusk At Cubist Castle, although its follow-up, Black Foliage: Animation Music, Vol. 1, is equally essential. Both contain some of the most bizarre, colorful, and exciting psychedelic music ever created.

Last year, Doss and a reformed OTC released their first new music since Black Foliage, a three-part single called “The Game You Play Is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2, & 3,” and played select live dates, with the promise of more of both to follow.

This is sad news. I’m not sure we can even really gauge Doss’s cultural impact at this point, but I’m comfortable saying it was monumental. I’m personally of the opinion that Elephant 6 was at the center of one of the most important movements in American music history, and their influence is clearly evident in bands from Animal Collective to Arcade Fire and beyond. Sad news. R.I.P.