Jason Molina, the singer and guiding force behind Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company has passed away due to natural causes. He was 39 years old.
“This is especially hard for us to share,” his label, Secretly Canadian, wrote in a press release. “Jason is the cornerstone of Secretly Canadian. Without him there would be no us — plain and simple.”
The singer had been mostly absent from the world of music since cancelling a tour with Will Johnson in 2009 to deal with alcoholism and related health issues.
Molina was born in Lorain, Ohio. Although he would make his name as a performer of far more delicate music, Molina’s musical career began playing bass in heavy metal bands around Cleveland, Ohio. However, Molina found his true calling as a singer-songwriter. He began distributing homemade albums under a variety of different names– Songs: Radix, Songs: Albian and Songs: Unitas. The end result was Songs: Ohia, with a breakthrough self-titled debut in 1997.
Songs: Ohia released eight albums, including the live Mi Sei Apparso Come Un Fantasma, before Molina halted the project in the wake of 2003’s Magnolia Electric Co. He continued to record solo music under his own name, including the collaboration with kindred spirit Oldham, before assembling a new, Crazy Horse-like band under the name of Magnolia Electric Company in 2005. They released five full lengths, the last being Josephina in 2009.
Molina’s struggles with alcoholism were made public in 2011, when his family solicited donations to help pay for medical bills stemming from several trips to rehab. In a post to the Magnolia Electric Co. website titled “Where is jason molia [sic]” the family expressed optimism that Molina, then “working on a farm in West Virginia raising chickens,” had been making progress towards “becoming healthy” and was “looking forward to making great music again.” Eight months later Molina posted a thank you note on his website for help of all sorts (“good vibes are worth more than you might think”), mentioning that he had written to 500 fans who had sent get well soon letters.
“Jason was incredibly humbled by his fans’ support through the years,” said Secretly Canadian in their release “and said that the two most important words he could ever say are ‘Thank you.'”
Molina’s last project, a 10” LP that accompanied a William Schaff art book, was released in September.