Low’s Mimi Parker has died. Alan Sparhawk, her partner and the band’s other half, revealed the news on social media, writing: “Friends, it’s hard to put the universe into language and into a short message, but… 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.”
Parker was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in late 2020. She first spoke publicly about her diagnosis on the Sheroes Radio podcast in January of this year, and the group recently canceled a run of scheduled tour dates as Parker was undergoing treatment.
Parker was raised in Duluth, Minnesota, where she and Sparhawk would form Low in 1993 alongside bassist John Nichols. Her mother was an aspiring country singer who taught herself how to play guitar, as did one of Parker’s sisters, and they would often sing around the house growing up.
Recalling how she was brought on to play drums for Low, she said in a 2001 interview: “I guess it was always kind of a dream, not something I ever thought I’d do, but every once in a while I’d have the thought that playing music would be fun. So Alan and I talked about it and then he and John Nichols got together and came up with the idea of the band — slow and quiet.” She continued, “Around this time Alan was working at the arena in Duluth and he was in the basement and they had tons of old equipment from the orchestra that was there years ago. There was a drum down there and a cymbal. So he asked about it and this woman said, ‘Oh, I can’t give it to you, but why don’t you just take it.’ So he brought home a snare drum and a cymbal and kinda laid it on me. ‘You could just play drums in this band! It would be really easy!'”
Low released their debut album, I Could Live in Hope, in 1994 on Virgin Records’ Vernon Yard imprint. Favoring minimalist arrangements and dynamically subtle performances, the record helped define the genre that would become known as slowcore. Zak Sally replaced Nichols for 1995’s Long Division and its follow-up I Could Live in Hope, which brought the band further acclaim.
After three LPs on the independent label Kranky – 1999’s Secret Name, 2001’s Things We Lost in the Fire, and 2002’s Trust, Low signed with Sub Pop Records and issued their first album for the label, The Great Destroyer, in 2004. Sparhawk and Parker remained in the band through various lineup changes and continued diversifying their sound, which underwent a radical reinvention when they teamed up with producer BJ Burton for 2018’s Double Negative. Burton also produced its follow-up, last year’s HEY WHAT, which marked Low’s first album as a duo and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category.
Friends, it’s hard to put the universe into language and into a short message, but
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.
— LOW (@lowtheband) November 6, 2022