Detroit Cobras vocalist Rachel Nagy has died, the band says
Rachel Nagy, lead singer of rock band The Detroit Cobras, has died, according to bandmate Greg Cartwright.
Cartwright announced the news in an Instagram post on Saturday:
“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce the loss of our beloved friend and musical colleague, Rachel Lee Nagy. There are no words to fully express our grief as we remember “A life cut short, still vital and inspiring to all who knew and loved her. With the Detroit Cobras, Rachel Nagy carried the torch of Rock, Soul and R&B to fans around the world. More than a a simple performer, she embodied the spirit of the music itself and took it to new heights with her own deeply touching vocal power. I know I’m not alone when I say I was inspired by its vitality, fierce intensity and vulnerability. Once plans have been finalized by the family, we will release more information regarding other details to commemorate Rachel and honor her life. Until then, please know that if you are devastated by this news like we are, you you are not alone. We are with you in your grief. Rachel is survived by her brother Tony Nagy and her mother Marge Nagy.”
The cause of death has not been shared. The Detroit Cobras were scheduled to perform at El Club last week, but the show was postponed to February due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“HERE WE GO AGAIN,” the band wrote of the cancellation on Instagram, adding, “This madness needs to stop 😔”
Formed in 1994, the Detroit Cobras established themselves as a crate cover band, with Nagy – tattooed, with blonde Bettie Page bangs – adding a rock ‘n’ roll twist to classic and obscure R&B and soul tracks, like Brice Coefield’s “Cha Cha Twist” and “He Did It” by the Ronettes.
Of course, anyone who’s ever seen the band perform knows that the term “cover band” doesn’t quite do the Detroit Cobras justice. As journalist Brian J. Bowe wrote in a 2007 Metro timetables cover story:
The Cobras made a career out of playing other people’s music and were sometimes lazily dismissed as a “cover band”. And while technically that label is true, the band — especially Nagy — brings a gruff, road-traveling beauty to the music. The singer offers a deep sense of empathy to the lyrics, both towards the songwriters and song topics. And lines like “I’m going to grab him by the balls and drag him to town” worry the men. His is unrepentant and believable.
“We never said that one day we were going to write originals and move on to this,” Nagy said. Metro timetables. “Obviously, that’s not our goal. We are what we are, and we are for a reason. It’s not a cradle we’re trying to climb out of. It’s what we love to do. ”
“There’s nothing worse than playing a song that you don’t think is so good,” said Detroit Cobras guitarist Mary Ramirez. MT. “But when you play and the song is good, you play differently.”
Ramirez formed what would become the Cobras with Steve Shaw and Jeff Meier in 1993, but they needed a singer. Nagy was a friend and, according to band tradition, was said to have been “coaxed” into singing one night, having never sung before. Before joining the group, she said she worked as a stripper and a butcher.
“The thing is Rachel’s voice,” Cartwright told the newspaper. “When they asked me to help them, that’s why I do it. She’s definitely blessed. Someone with that kind of natural chops is refreshing, especially when you can watch people on TV shows. tv like american idol and see all these children. They studied and they imitated all the vocal tricks in the book, but they have no natural ability to convey feelings.”
He added: “Unfortunately, that’s what most of the American public wants; they’ve been led to think that’s what music is. They don’t even know that music is a spiritual thing. So when someone someone comes like Rachel who hasn’t learned anything – she doesn’t come from a background where she’s been singing all her life, imitating this guy or imitating this person. at this.”
In Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in America’s Loudest City, Nagy told author Steve Miller that her father was an engineer for Ford Motor Co., and she grew up in Detroit and Dearborn, where she developed an appreciation for older music.
“I mean, there’s this crowd, when you grow up in Detroit your parents listen to shit,” she said. “You hear it at house parties; you see people dancing in your house and that…whole ‘Well, that’s what the old fogies listen to.’ It’s only later that you get into punk and metal and whatever and then at some point it comes to your mind: Holy shit, that’s where everything comes and it’s much better, you know?”
The Detroit Cobras had a rotating lineup over the years, with Nagy and Ramirez as the only regular members, and had released records on independent labels like Sympathy for the Record Industry, Rough Trade Records, Bloodshot Records, and most recently Jack White’s Third. Human Records. Nagy credited White with helping the Detroit Cobras gain an international following when his group, the White Stripes, exploded.
“Jack White is the only person in this whole scene that I’m glad he made it through,” Nagy said in DetroitRock City. “He’s ambitious, he’s smart, and he’s lifted everyone up in Detroit. Every interview he’s done, he’s lifted everyone up, including us.”
The band is also notorious for Nagy’s erratic stage presence over the years, which she blamed on heavy drinking. In the 2007 Metro timetables cover story, she said she once drank scotch while on a European tour and later physically assaulted “anyone on the [tour] bus.”
“There was definitely a time when we were crazy, and I was definitively crazy,” she told the newspaper. “I was drinking and hitting the first person I wanted to say hello to. After a while it’s time to grow up – that shit ain’t cute anymore.”
In DetroitRock City, Bobby Harlow of The Go compared her to another rock star.
“Rachel is Amy Winehouse, but she’s like the dangerous version,” he said. “Amy Winehouse was tragic but she couldn’t walk straight, and she sings, she’s a wreck. Well, Rachel’s gonna kick your ass. You know she’s really dangerous, really out of control. And look at Winehouse’s tattoos - same place as Rachel’s.”
You can read the Instagram post below.
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