Rob Laakso, Kurt Vile & the Violators and Swirlies Guitarist, Dies at 44

Rob Laakso, a longtime guitarist and multi-instrumentalist at Kurt Vile and the Violators and Swirliesdied this Thursday (May 4), his wife Mamie-Claire Cornelius confirmed a Instagram post. Laakso was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive type of bile duct cancer. “You are the light of my life and the smallest piece of peace I have is that you are no longer in pain. We will dream of you every night until we meet again,” Cornelius wrote. He is 44 years old.

“After praying for a miracle every day since he was diagnosed my prayers have just changed to a peaceful departure home surrounded by love. I realize now that every day we spend together is a miracle,” Cornelius wrote in an update on GoFundMe to cover the cost of Laakso’s cancer treatment. “I also try to remember for myself and as an example for our children to realize how much Rob loved life, he was always busy with a new project to improve himself, writing a new song, ready for an adventure, looking forward to Try a new restaurant, hiking, sauna – so please live and try something new for him if you feel pain coming. Go enjoy it; she goes through so much just to sit back and enjoy the joy of our kids running around in the bubbles in the backyard… that’s living her life perfectly in our most recent days. It doesn’t have to be grand. , just make the most of the moment.”

Kurt Vile considered Laakso his recording partner, playing several instruments on the Violators and his solo material. After the first contribution in 2009’s God Said It To YouLaakso continues to perform his albums Smoke Ring for My Halo, Wakin in a Pretty Daze, B’lieve I’m coming down…and Bottle It. His last studio record with Vile was 2022 See My Actions. Laakso has been a staple of the Violators lineup on the road as well, performing alongside Vile during his album tours, festival setsand his NPR”Tiny Desk Concert.”

Before crossing paths with Vile, Laakso played guitar in the shoegaze band Swirlies, which appeared on their 2000 album Damon, Andy, Rob, Ron: The Yes Girls2003 that is Cats in the Wild Volume 2and 2005’s Swirlies’ Magic Strop: Winsome Zamula’s Hammer of Contumely. Laakso was a member of the indie rock group Mice Parade for many years, too, for their albums thank you miss you in 2004, Parade of Rats in 2007, and What It Means to Be Nothing in 2010. He also performed in several other bands, including Amazing Baby, Diamond Nights, and the Wicked Farleys.

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