Swell’s David Freel Dies at 64

    David Freel, the vocalist and guitarist of the San Francisco indie rock band Swell, has died at the age of 64. The news was revealed on the band’s Facebook page, with no cause of death given.

    Born January 31, 1958, Freel formed Swell in 1989 with drummer Sean Kirkpatrick. The band released their self-titled debut album through their own pSychosPecificMusic label in April the following year, and spent the summer busking on the streets of Europe, mainly in Spain. They returned to the US in August to play their first show at San Francisco’s I-Beam, opening for Mazzy Star. They would go on to release a number of albums throughout the ’90s, including 1991’s …Well?, 1994’s 41, and 1997’s Too Many Days Without Thinking. 2001’s Everybody Wants to Know was written mostly by Freel, who put out 2009’s Be My Weapon for the first time without using the Swell name. He continued releasing through his label after moving to Oregon; his final album was 2014’s Greasy.

    “In the years after Swell’s touring schedule, David found a home and a family in Oregon,” the Facebook post reads. “For 14 years, he continued to create; whether that be music or Vinyl On Demand, he always had a project at hand. David led with spontaneous curiosity and an appreciation for the world around him, always learning more, he even learned how to surf.” It continues:

    At age 56, he found love, bought a home, and settled down with Jen. To his Portland family, David was a gentle, patient, and humorous friend, Uncle, and partner. After years of travel and struggle, he had become the man he had always wanted to be in Oregon. David is loved and missed but never forgotten. Just play one of his songs or close your eyes to see his presence on stage. He will be there strumming his well-loved, ramshackle 1970s Takamine.

    The admirers of Swell and David Freel will mourn his loss but celebrate his life and legacy. As David would say, live every day like it is your last and never say goodbye, but rather see you soon. Thank you.

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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