Athens singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt, whose struggles with his own mortality played out in his lyrics, has died from an apparent drug overdose. (report from Access Atlanta
"In the few short years that we knew him personally, Vic transformed our sense of what true character, grace and determination are all about,"
said Constellation records founders Ian Ilavsky and Don Wilkie in a statement released Friday night. "Our grief is inexpressible and Vic's absence unfathomable."
The New York Times, quoting a family spokesman, who said Chesnutt had been in a coma after taking an overdose of muscle relaxants earlier this week. He had attempted suicide several times before, according to the paper.
Chesnutt, 45, was partially paralyzed and has used a wheelchair since age 18, when he was involved in a car accident. He started writing songs as a child and released his debut album, "Little," in 1990. R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe was the record's producer.
He's perhaps best known for the 1996 tribute album, "Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation," which featured musicians including Madonna and the Smashing Pumpkins covering Chesnutt's songs. That same year he appeared in the Billy Bob Thornton movie, "Sling Blade."
Chesnutt recently toured in support of his new album, "At the Cut," one of two he released in 2009. In an interview with the A.V. Club, he called it "a very personal album. It’s shockingly so. I didn’t realize it was gonna be that way. A lot of my songs are very personal, always, but this one felt like a memoir. I almost called it Hallucinated Memoir."
Chesnutt added that the album is "very dark, but it's uplifting in a strange kind of way."
He addressed suicide in the song, “Flirted With You All My Life," which concludes: "Oh death, I’m really not ready.”
Ive followed Vic music with interest ever since he was name checked and rated by Michael Stipe, also my friend the guitarist Jeffrey Richards has worked and toured with Vic as a side man, I knew from him how hard life was for Vic . I know the music fraternity of Athens and the roots music scene in general will be deeply saddened by this news as I am, I know the world in general will be lessened by his loss, our thoughts and prayers are with his Family and close friends at this time. Rob Ellen