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Indie rocker Jason Molina dies at 39

By
GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com
Jason Molina (Steve Gullick)
Jason Molina (Steve Gullick)

After a long struggle with alcoholism, Jason Molina, the prolific singer-songwriter at the heart of indie bands Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., died Saturday at the age of 39.

In a statement released Monday, his label, Secretly Canadian, mourned the loss of a troubled artist.

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“Jason is the cornerstone of Secretly Canadian,” the statement said. “Without him there would be no us -- plain and simple."

"His singular, stirring body of work is the foundation upon which all else has been constructed. After hearing and falling in love with the mysterious voice on his debut single 'Soul' in early 1996, we approached him about releasing a single on our newly formed label. For some reason he said yes. We drove from Indiana to New York to meet him in person and he handed us what would become the first of many JMo master tapes. And with the Songs: Ohia 'One Pronunciation of Glory' we were given a voice as a label."

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Molina began performing in 1996 with a rotating group of musicians under the name Songs: Ohia, releasing 10 albums and four EPs in a six-year span.

He formed Magnolia Electric Co. in 2003, with whom he released another five albums.

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According to the label's statement, Molina withdrew from touring in 2009 to deal with severe alcoholism. His struggles with the disease became public in 2011 with the label and Molina's family pleaded with fans to help pay for his rehab bills.

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The statement said he died of natural causes.

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The whole statement from the label:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Jason Andrew Molina passed away in his home in Indianapolis this past Saturday, March 16th of natural causes at age 39. Jason was a world class musician, songwriter & recording artist. He was also a beloved friend. He first caught international attention in 1996 when he began releasing albums under the name Songs: Ohia. In 2003 he started the band Magnolia Electric Co. Between those two bands he released over a dozen critically-acclaimed albums and — starting in 1997 — he toured the world every year until he had to stop in 2009 to deal with severe alcoholism. Jason was incredibly humbled by his fans’ support through the years and said that the two most important words he could ever say are “Thank you.”

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This is especially hard for us to share. Jason is the cornerstone of Secretly Canadian. Without him there would be no us — plain and simple. His singular, stirring body of work is the foundation upon which all else has been constructed. After hearing and falling in love with the mysterious voice on his debut single “Soul” in early 1996, we approached him about releasing a single on our newly formed label. For some reason he said yes. We drove from Indiana to New York to meet him in person and he handed us what would become the first of many JMo master tapes. And with the Songs: Ohia One Pronunciation of Glory 7” we were given a voice as a label. The subsequent self-titled debut was often referred to by fans as The Black Album. Each Songs: Ohia album to follow proved a new, haunting thesis statement from a prodigal songwriter whose voice and soul burned far beyond that of the average twenty-something. There was organ-laced, sepia-toned econimica (1998’s Impala) and charred-hearted, free form balladry (1999’s Axxess and Ace). There were the dark glacial make-out epics of 2000’s The Lioness and the jungle incantations of 2000’s Ghost Tropic. There was the career-defining agnostic’s gospel of 2002’s Didn’t It Rain, an album about setting roots that also seemed to offer solace to a world that had recently seen its bar on terror raised. It was followed in 2003 by a thrilling about-face, the instant classic Magnolia Electric Co., which took Jason’s songwriting to ’70s classic rock heights. The move was such a powerful moment for Molina that Magnolia Electric Co. became the new moniker under which would perform until 2009. With Magnolia Electric Co., Jason found a brotherhood in his bandmates, with whom he built an incredible live experience and made a truly classic album in Josephine (2009).

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We’re going to miss Jason. He was generous. He was a one of a kind. And he had a voice unlike any other.

Fans can contribute to Jason’s medical fund as a memorial gift by sending money via PayPal.

Hold on, Magnolia, to that great highway moon No one has to be that strong But if you’re stubborn like me I know what you’re trying to be

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Hold on, Magnolia, I hear that station bell ring You might be holding the last light I see Before the dark finally gets a hold of me

Hold on, Magnolia, I know what a true friend you’ve been In my life I have had my doubts But tonight I think I’ve worked it out with all of them

Hold on, Magnolia, to the thunder and the rain To the lightning that has just signed my name to the bottom line

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Hold on, Magnolia, I hear that lonesome whistle whine Hold on, Magnolia, I think its almost time

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