Girls’ Chet “JR” White Dead At 40
Chet “JR” White, producer and one-half of the beloved band Girls, has died at age 40. He passed away on Sunday night at his family’s home in Santa Cruz after his heart stopped during the night, according to True Panther Records founder Dean Bein, who put out all of the Girls albums. No more details are known at this time.
White was born in Santa Cruz and played in punk bands growing up, including one called the Willies. He moved to San Francisco in his early 20s and got a degree in recording engineering from the California Recording Institute. It was there that he was introduced to Christopher Owens and they started Girls in 2007. “JR was maybe the one straight guy friend I had, in my really close group of friends,” Owens reflected in an interview last year. “[He] was sort of our protector. A very quiet guy, I didn’t know much about him.”
The band released their debut, Album, in 2009. It was a smash success and White’s production was particularly lauded, as he handled Owens’ genre swings with aplomb. They followed it up the next year with the equally great Broken Dreams Club EP and then in 2011 released what would turn out to be Girls’ final album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Owens left the band in 2012 and Girls was effectively ended.
After Girls broke up, White went on to engineer Cass McCombs’ 2013 album Big Wheel And Others and produce Tobias Jesso Jr.’s debut Goon and the Spectrals’ Sob Story. He also reportedly worked on a scrapped DIIV album.
“I do like making music, but at some point I realized that I like producing better,” White said in a 2013 interview. “I really do like to help people realize their music as they imagine it, or being another set of ears to help them realize something that they haven’t thought about. It’s a really interesting way to be a part of music and art, almost the sneaky, backdoor way of being in a band.”
In a tweet yesterday, Owens paid tribute to White, writing: “I hope you feel nothing but peace now my brother. I love you, and thank you for believing in me, and for what you brought to the table. Always and Forever, and I’ll always be proud of you… I’ll always remember you protecting Liza, Patrick, myself and Beta from the jerks”
Here are tributes from some Girls affiliates:
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Rest In Peace to my friend and bandmate, Chet JR White. An immensely talented musician and producer with the sharpest ear. Was Girls the best band of the late aughts? Most likely yes. I came in at the very end, for what turned out to be the final tours.. but those shows contained some of the most powerful moments I’ve ever felt on stage. Much respect & much love @1dislike – you will be missed 💔