Jonathan Fire*Eater frontman Stewart Lupton has died. He was 43.
Lupton formed the indie rock band Jonathan Fire*Eater as a high school student in Washington, DC. He and his bandmates — Tom Frank, Paul Maroon, Matt Barrick, and Walter Martin — would later move to New York in the mid-’90s, becoming a precursor to the city’s rock revival that would really ramp up in the 2000s. Lizzy Goodman’s recent oral history of NYC music in the 2000s, Meet Me In The Bathroom, opens with Jonathan Fire*Eater, citing them as a major influence in a burgeoning scene though they never made it big.
Jonathan Fire*Eater released their self-titled debut in 1995 on Third World Underground and became one of the first signings of the nascent DreamWorks Records, which put out the band’s sophomore LP Wolf Songs For Lambs in 1997. They played their last show in Central Park in 1998. When Jonathan Fire*Eater called it quits, Maroon, Barrick, and Martin went on to form the Walkmen.
Lupton moved back to DC after the breakup and enrolled at George Washington University where he studied poetry. He later formed a new band called Child Ballads.
A reporter from The Washington Post shared the news today via Twitter and tributes have been posted on Lupton’s personal Facebook page. His cousin also reported the death on her Instagram and Pitchfork confirmed the news. The cause of death has not been reported. We will update this story as more information becomes available.
UPDATE: In a statement to the New York Times, Lupton’s family gave no cause of death but said it stemmed from a “desperate attempt to escape the voices that so tormented him.” Lupton’s former Jonathan Fire*Eater bandmate Walter Martin, later of the Walkmen, also shared a tribute to the singer, writing that Lupton’s creative output generated “that other-worldly beauty and that feeling that you are in the presence of something that is magical and real.”