The Clean drummer Hamish Kilgour has died, aged 65

Hamish Kilgour, the longstanding drummer for New Zealand indie rock band The Clean, has been found dead after he was reported missing late last month. He was 65 years old.

According to New Zealand news website Stuff, Kilgour was found in Christchurch. A police spokesperson said the death has been referred to the coroner. The musician had last been seen at the Palms shopping centre in Christchurch.

Born in 1957, Kilgour co-founded The Clean in the late 1970s alongside his brother, David Kilgour, and a handful of different bassists – first Peter Gutteridge, then Robert Scott. The band’s 1981 debut single, ‘Tally Ho!’, was the second release on Roger Shepherd’s Flying Nun Records, helping to establish what would go on to be an iconic indie rock and pop label.

The band released two EPs – 1981’s ‘Boodle Boodle Boodle’ and 1982’s ‘Great Sounds Great’ – before splitting up. Even while the band was inactive throughout much of the 1980s, Flying Nun released a compilation of their early recordings, titled simply ‘Compilation’, in 1986.

In the late ’80s, The Clean reformed and began touring, with live record ‘In-a-Live’, captured in London, arriving in 1989. The following year, the band’s debut album, ‘Vehicle’, was released by both Flying Nun and Rough Trade.

Over the ensuing years, the band moved in and out of activity. Second album ‘Modern Rock’ arrived in 1994, with ‘Unknown Country’ following in 1996 and ‘Getaway’ in 2001. In 2002, another compilation of The Clean’s early releases, ‘Anthology’, was released jointly by Flying Nun and Merge. The band’s final studio album, ‘Mister Pop’, was released in 2009.

With The Clean, Kilgour was a pioneering influence on the “Dunedin sound” that came to be associated with many of the bands on Flying Nun. His distinctive drumming approach – at once loose and muscular, anchoring the jangly guitars and melodic basslines of his bandmates – can be heard throughout The Clean’s discography.

Kilgour was musically active outside of The Clean for many years, playing with a diverse range of projects. Most notably, in the early 1990s, he moved to New York and formed The Mad Scene with Lisa Siegel. Debut album ‘A Trip Thru Monsterland’ arrived in 1993, with follow-up ‘Sealight’ released in 1995.

In 2014, Kilgour released his first solo album, ‘All Of It And Nothing’, on American label Ba Da Bing. His second solo album, ‘Finklestein’, was released four years later. Kilgour, as part of The Clean, was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2017.

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