The Clean’s Hamish Kilgour Found Dead

A seminal figure in the development of New Zealand music...

The Clean’s Hamish Kilgour has died, it has been confirmed.

The songwriter was reported missing by his family, and was last sighted at The Palms shopping centre in Christchurch, New Zealand on November 27th. A search had been underway, before a body was found; a police spokesperson said the death has been referred to the Coroner.

A force of nature, Hamish Kilgour helped to redefine New Zealand music, and provided a template for countless indie bands around the world. Together with his brother David Kilgour, they formed The Clean, and developed a pared back, minimalist take on rock music.

Closely attached to the Flying Nun imprint, The Clean would become synonymous with the Dunedin sound – a drifting, poetic, often surreal but endlessly romantic style of songwriting, much of which stemmed from Hamish Kilgour himself.

An incredibly talented drummer, Hamish Kilgour seemed able to invoke the wide open space of New Zealand by blending a near-motorik style with the directness of 60s garage rock, pushing The Clean into fresh emotional spaces in the process.

1990 debut album ‘Vehicle’ spawned a legion of imitators, yet has never been bettered. Later moving to New York to form the Mad Scene, Hamish Kilgour never quite strayed away from The Clean – the band’s final album ‘Mister Pop’ landed in 2009.

The Clean – together with Hamish Kilgour – were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2017.

News of his passing was mourned by fans. Director Rob Hatch-Miller wrote: “RIP Hamish Kilgour. Drummer for one of the best bands ever and just a great guy. I feel lucky to have gotten to know him a little tiny bit as an Other Music customer & see him play including with the Clean. Condolences to his family, bandmates, everyone at Flying Nun & Merge.”

San Francisco musician Glenn Donaldson added: “RIP Hamish Kilgour, had some friendly chats with him at shows when he lived in NY. The Clean are one of the greatest ever, and his loose but hypnotic beats have influenced countless bands.”

Photo Credit: Joe Blossom

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