Critically acclaimed drummer and vocalist for Low, Mimi Parker, has passed away after a battle ovarian cancer. Following a string of live show cancellations due to concerns related to Parker’s health, Parker publicly revealed her health status in a podcast interview earlier this year. Parker is survived by Sparhawk and their two children, Hollis and Cyrus.
Parker grew up in a small town outside of Bemidji, Minnesota. She and her sister began experimenting with music from a young age, singing along to old country and gospel records introduced to them by their parents. Parker would go on to form Low in 1993 with her husband Alan Sparhawk and bassist John Nichols in Duluth, Minnesota, spearheading what would evolve into the slowcore movement of the decade. (Low’s first album, I Could Live in Hope, is the poster child for the sonic style.)
Their heavenly, sparse vocals floated in the ether above their droning instrumentals and gentle hi-hat/snare drumming; a perfect yin and yang of artistic beauty and controlled chaos. Their symbolic song lyrics allude to End Times, redemption and morality – all sincere expressions of their religious faith. According to a 1995 Billboard interview with Sparhawk, their other biggest inspirations were “Eno, Joy Division, and the boredom of living in Duluth.”
Although the band never found the greater commercial success of their contemporaries, they did appreciate the creative freedom that being under the radar allowed them. “We’d be trying to replicate that success our whole career,” Parker said. “That, honestly, has allowed us to do whatever we want. It’s given us freedom to surprise ourselves and hopefully others, too.”
The band would have four different bassists throughout their history; their last incarnation whittled down to a duo of Parker and Sparhawk, who had known each other since meeting in junior high marching band.
Parker’s death was announced on the band’s official Twitter and Instagram on Sunday morning by her husband.
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“Friends, it’s hard to put the universe into language and into a short message. “She passed away last night, surrounded by family and love, including yours. Keep her name close and sacred. Share this moment with someone who needs you. Love is indeed the most important thing.”
Mimi Parker was just 55.