Rain Parade – live at Keystone in Palo Alto, California – March 22, 1984 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
More sad news tonight; the sudden and devastating loss of David Roback, Rain Parade founder and guiding light behind the Paisley Underground movement of the 80s at the age of 61 has left most people (those who knew him and those who were affected by his work) speechless.
Roback was active in the Paisley Underground music scene in Los Angeles in the early to mid-1980s as the leader of the band Rain Parade, which was popular on the local club circuit. Shortly after the release of the band’s first album, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, in 1983, Roback left Rain Parade to join Rainy Day, a collaborative effort with a number of Los Angeles musicians in the Paisley Underground. After releasing their self-titled album, Roback formed Opal (which was initially called Clay Allison) with vocalist/bassist Kendra Smith, formerly of The Dream Syndicate. After one EP and one album, Smith was replaced by Hope Sandoval, but this lineup never released an album. Roback changed the name of the band to Mazzy Star in 1989.
Roback wrote and produced the songs that actress Maggie Cheung sang in the 2004 film Clean. He also played himself in the film.
I think most people would recognize his work with Mazzy Star, and his prevailing influence and point of view are unmistakable. I have been running Mazzy Star sessions over the past few years, and was tempted to run some of the live Opal shows that have been around. But tonight I thought I would go back to the earliest material as a kind of “stepping-off point”; begin at the beginning, as it were. Here is an early concert as Rain Parade, recorded live at Keystone in Palo Alto on March 22, 1984. Takes a minute or two get up to speed (the band), but it’s a memorable show.
During a year that’s still only two months old, and to have gone through such an amazing amount of loss from the Music and Arts community, it is overwhelming to say the least. Even though David Roback wasn’t a household name (at least in the mainstream), his contributions and his overall approach have been pivotal in the natural progression of Music. To say he was unique and a motivating force is to state the obvious – he touched many lives; the people who knew him and the people who didn’t. I’m sorry to say I never had the pleasure of meeting Dvid Roback, but his presence and his example are vivid and tangible and his recorded legacy is worthy of a prominent place in any music library.
We’ve been blessed.