Vic Chesnutt died today at age 45, the head of his label tells the Music Mix. The acclaimed singer-songwriter had been in a coma since earlier in the week. Some reports have said Chesnutt attempted suicide before the coma, but the cause of death has not been announced.
A statement on Constellation Records’ official site reads in full: “Surrounded by family and friends, Vic Chesnutt died in Athens Georgia this afternoon, Friday 25 December at 14:59. In the few short years that we knew him personally, Vic transformed our sense of what true character, grace and determination are all about. Our grief is inexpressible and Vic’s absence unfathomable. We will make more information available according to the wishes of Vic’s family and friends.”
It’s an unspeakably tragic end to Chesnutt’s story. Left in a wheelchair by a car accident at age 18, Chesnutt went on to build a devoted following with his folk-rock songs, many of which dealt eloquently with themes of pain and mortality. That following included many fellow artists: Fans including Madonna, R.E.M., and Smashing Pumpkins covered his work for Sweet Relief II, a 1996 compilation that raised funds for musicians’ health care.
Chesnutt spoke openly about his own death in an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross that aired earlier this month. “You know, I’ve attempted suicide three or four times. It didn’t take,” Chesnutt said then. “I’ve flirted with death my whole life. Even as a young kid I was sick and almost died a few times.” Pressed by Gross on the subject of his suicide attempts, he added, “Sometimes I’d be angry that they revived me. I’d be like, ‘How dare you?’…But of course as the hours and days wear on, you realize, well, there is joy to be had.”
We here at the Music Mix extend our sincerest condolences to the friends, family, and fans of this talented artist.