Vic Chesnutt, the wheelchair-bound singer/songwriter whose voice rose from Athens., Ga. to become a fixture on the Americana scene, died Christmas Day from an overdose of muscle relaxants, according to The New York Times.
Chesnutt, 45, sang in a pinched voice that married Steve Earle’s twang and Michael Stipe’s rasp, and his music tended toward the downbeat. He delivered his first album, Little, in 1990, and became a prolific artist with several high-profile fans. He collaborated with Widespread Panic and received prominent support from R.E.M. lead singer Stipe, who offered simple tribute upon Chesnutt’s passing: “We have lost one of our great ones.”
Stipe’s sentiment, along with words from Patti Smith and Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum, are posted on the website for Chesnutt’s label, Constellation Records, which released his album At the Cut earlier this year.
According to the Constellation site, a memorial service has already been held and a Chesnutt tribute is being scheduled at Athens’ famed 40 Watt Club.
Donations to Chesnutt’s family can be made here.