Mazzy Star Songwriter Dies at 61 But His Influence Lives On
Mazzy Star is one of the most beloved one-hit-wonder bands of the 1990s. Their hit “Fade into You” is widely remembered as one of the best rock ballads of the 1990s, if not one of the best rock ballads ever. One listen to the song’s chorus and you’ll never forget it.
Sadly, Mazzy Star co-founder David Roback died on Feb. 24, 2020, at the age of 61. What many fans don’t know is he had a huge career outside of “Fade into You.” Here’s a look at his career and lasting legacy.
David Roback’s career
Yahoo! Entertainment reports Roback was born in Los Angeles, California in 1958. In the 1980s, he became part of a Los Angeles music scene that took inspiration from bands of the 1960s. During that time, he became the lead singer of a band called Rain Parade. Rain Parade disbanded in 1988.
This didn’t end Roback’s career. The following year, he formed Mazzy Star, the band through which he would find his greatest success. Mazzy Star had a hit upon the release of their second album, So Tonight That I Might See, in 1993.
After years of making music, Roback finally found success. “Fade into You” hit number forty-four on the Billboard Hot 100. Never again would a Mazzy Star song reach the Billboard chart. However, the band could at least take pride in the track’s enduring popularity. Yahoo! Entertainment reports “Fade into You” has been used in shows like Psych and Ray Donovan. It also regularly appears in 1990s compilation albums.
Mazzy Star’s lack of success after releasing “Fade into You” had less to do with their music and more to do with their lack of output. The band released only one more album before disbanding in 1997. However, “Fade into You” refused to fade from the public consciousness. Mazzy Star capitalized on the song’s success by reforming to release another album in 2013.
Mazzy Star’s artistry and lasting legacy
Although Roback wasn’t a major hitmaker a la Max Martin or Phil Spector, he had a strong following thanks to his work with Mazzy Star. This was because the songs he wrote were very atmospheric. He wanted to make sure his songs were not, in his words, “overdetermined.”
According to Fox News, Roback said “So much about music is overdetermined by television and what people write and say about it. You have to leave something to people’s imagination, so they feel they can participate…We don’t want to be part of that over-determination. We feel you should be able to shut your eyes and listen to it.”
According to The Guardian, Mazzy Star had a palpable influence on one of the most significant artists of the 2010s: Lana Del Rey. Both Roback and Del Rey displayed a similar, moody approach to songwriting. It’s difficult to listen to Mazzy star’s 1990s output without thinking of Del Rey. Thanks to Del Rey’s influence, Roback has likely inspired many artists who’ve never even heard of him.
Also see: Here’s Lana Del Rey’s Best Cover Songs