Rachel Nagy, the lead singer of the Michigan garage rock band the Detroit Cobras, has died. The band confirmed the news on social media, with no cause of death revealed. “It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce the loss of our beloved friend and musical colleague, Rachel Lee Nagy,” guitarist Greg Cartwright wrote on the band’s Instagram page. “There are no words to fully articulate our grief as we remember a life cut short, still vital and inspirational to all who knew and loved her.”
“With the Detroit Cobras Rachel Nagy carried the torch of Rock, Soul and R&B to fans all over the world,” Cartwright continued. “More than just a performer, she embodied the spirit of the music itself and vaulted it to new heights with her own deeply affecting vocal power. I know that I am not alone when I say that I was inspired by her vitality, her fierce intensity and her vulnerability. Please know that if you are as devastated by this news as we are, you are not alone. We are with you in your grief.”
The Detroit Cobras were formed in 1994 by Nagy and guitarist Mary Ramirez. Primarily recording and performing covers of classic and lesser-known R&B songs from the 1960s, the group released their debut album, Mink, Rat or Rabbit, in 1998, followed by Life, Love and Leaving in 2001. After signing with Rough Trade, they released the 2003 EP Seven Easy Pieces and put out their third album, Baby, in 2004. The Detroit Cobras’ last studio album, Tied & True, was released in 2007, though the group continued to play live, with them having a number of gigs lined up for 2022.
In 2016, Third Man Records reissued the band’s first two albums. In a statement about Nagy’s passing, the label wrote on Instagram: “In both her voice and personality, Rachel Nagy was the perfect balance of tough badass and absolute sweetheart. From the earliest White Stripes shows at the Magic Stick in Detroit through the Third Man 10th anniversary show in Nashville, Rachel and the Detroit Cobras have been a consistent inspiring presence in our world for nearly 25 years. We will truly miss the sound of her room-filling laughter, her no bullshit honesty, and her true friendship. Rest in power.”