Chet “JR” White, Girls member and producer, RIP
Chet "JR" White, member of the now-defunct indie rock band Girls and producer/engineer for Tobias Jesso Jr, Cass McCombs, Spectrals, and others, has reportedly passed away. True Panther Records founder Dean Bein revealed that JR "passed away on Sunday in his family's home in Santa Cruz," and added, "His heart stopped. No further details at this time." He was 40.
Rest In Peace JR. It feels unreal to write these words. You changed my life, I'm eternally in your debt. When I asked to release a Girls 7" you would only do it if I committed to making True Panther the best in the world, and went on the radio the next day and said as much. You recruited people into your army and empowered, and (sometimes bullied) us to fulfill our purpose. So many of us owe you that. True Panther wouldn't exist without you. My life would be fundamentally different without you. Thank you a million times over.
The Chef. Iron Man. Fantasy Trashcan!! 10 years on and I'm trying to catch the memories bursting out like drinking out of a fire hose. So many of them imbued with an air of mischief and chaos, of trying to figure out this weird new life on the fly. You made it difficult to be your friend quite often, but also easy to come back. I can't count all of the conversations I've had with people that recount with a kind of shellshocked realness the feeling of being sucked into this Girls world, or your world; a bad kids army, feeling like it's the only place to be, but you probably shouldn't stay long.
The songs make the albums, but the production allows people to receive it and how you made that music sing!!! The gauzy buzz, the ocean of reverb, the restraint and then explosion, a sound that wrapped you in its arms but wasn't shy about its wounds. Your heart stopped, a big big sensitive but conflicted heart.
Will miss you JR, I'll miss you. Thank you for everything.
JR's former Girls bandmate Christopher Owens wrote on Twitter, "I hope you feel nothing but peace now my brother. I love you, and thank you for believing in me, and for what you brought to the table. Always and Forever, and I’ll always be proud of you... I’ll always remember you protecting Liza, Patrick, myself and Beta from the jerks."
Former Girls touring drummer Derek James wrote, "Rest In Peace to my friend and bandmate, Chet JR White. An immensely talented musician and producer with the sharpest ear. Was Girls the best band of the late aughts? Most likely yes. I came in at the very end, for what turned out to be the final tours.. but those shows contained some of the most powerful moments I’ve ever felt on stage. Much respect & much love [JR] - you will be missed 💔"
Matthew Koshak, who was in Starred and was a live engineer for Girls, wrote, "After spending three years of my life in a room with a guy who was basically my hero and partner in crime I ended up with The big brother I never knew I wanted and the best friend I never knew I needed... now it’s the brother I’ll never fight with again and the best friend I’ll never stop hating myself for not being able to reach when he needed me... I’m so sorry big guy. I hated your guts and loved you more than I even knew I could... god bless you JR. you showed me how it���s done, and I promise to keep doin it brother. X"
JR began his music career as a teenager with the short-lived Santa Cruz country punk band The Willies (active from 1995-1997) before moving to San Francisco, where he eventually formed Girls with Christopher Owens in 2007. As the two core members of the band, JR and Chris went on to release two albums (2009's Album and 2011's Father, Son, Holy Ghost) and one EP (2010's Broken Dreams Club), all produced or co-produced by JR. They disbanded in 2012, and JR continued his career as a producer, engineer, and mixing engineer, having worked on Spectrals' Sob Story (2013), Cass McCombs' Big Wheel and Others (2013), Tobias Jesso Jr's Goon (2015), and others.
Rest in peace, JR.
Read more tributes from those who knew him and watch a couple Girls videos below...