R.I.P. Benjamin Curtis

By Michael Nelson / December 30, 2013 - 6:30 pm

Benjamin Curtis, founder of the excellent NYC dream-pop band School Of Seven Bells, has passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 35 years old.

Curtis came up as part of the Dallas, TX band Tripping Daisy (which later morphed into the Polyphonic Spree) from 1997 – 99. In 2000, he and his brother Brandon founded the heavy psychedelic rock band Secret Machines, who released three albums between 2000 and 2008, two with major label Reprise. Curtis left Secret Machines in 2007 (prior to the release of their third and final album) to form School Of Seven Bells. SIIVB released three increasingly ambitious albums, the last of which was February 2012’s outstanding Ghostory. Almost exactly a year after the release of that album, Curtis announced he had been diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. In that announcement, he wrote, “It developed pretty aggressively, and the chemotherapy to treat it will be pretty aggressive, but the good news is that it’s TREATABLE.” Musicians including the Polyphonic Spree, the Strokes, and Devendra Banhart participated in benefits to help offset the costs of Curtis’ treatment.

Curtis died yesterday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC.

UPDATE: School Of Seven Bells have shared a statement on Facebook:

Dear friends,

Last night, Dec. 29th 2013, we lost our friend and brother Benjamin Curtis to his fight against cancer.

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.

We kindly ask that his immediate family, friends & bandmates’ privacy be respected during this time, and that instead, any inquires, well wishes, or notes-of-consolation be sent through School of Seven Bells’ management, where it can be shared with them at the suitable time. They can be sent to a special e-mail address here: sviib@wizkidmanagement.com

If relevant, further information will be made available through the suitable channels in the near future.

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.