It’s a sad day for the indie world as Chet “JR” White, bassist and producer for the indie rock outfit ‘Girls’ has died. The announcement of his death was reported in a Facebook post published by the band’s old record label True Panther Sounds. White was 40 years old.
The cause of death is unknown. True Panther founder Dean Bein only reported that White’s heart had stopped. He died in his family’s Santa Cruz home on Sunday October 18. No additional details were given.
Girls front man and songwriter Christopher Owens took to Twitter to pay tribute to White with the following statement. “I hope you feel nothing but peace now my brother. I love you and thank you for believing in me, and for what you brought to the table. Always and forever, and I’ll always be proud of you… I’ll always remember you protecting Liza, Patrick, myself, and Beta from the jerks.”
Owens went on to credit White as a talented musician and producer and thanked him for helping with the launch and success of the True Panther label. “True Panther wouldn’t exist without you,” he said. “My life would be fundamentally different without you… Ten years on and I’m trying to catch the memories bursting out like drinking out of a fire hose. So many of them imbued with an air of mischief and chaos, of trying to figure out this weird new life on the fly. You made it difficult to be your friend quite often, but also easy to come back. I can’t count all of the conversations I’ve had with people that recount with a kind of shellshocked realness the feeling of being sucked into this Girls world, or your world — a bad kids army, feeling like it’s the only place to be, but you probably shouldn’t stay long.”
White was born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA. He grew up playing in punk bands and aspired to become a recording engineer and producer. Eventually he dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco. It was there that he met Owen and the two formed Girls in 2007.
In a few years Girls gained popularity and had a buzz around the country. Their first single, “Lust for Life” was a fun, jangly indie pop hit that was well complemented by Owens’ lyrics that sent a message of peace and love in times of madness and excess. Their first LP, “Album”, dropped in 2009 and was applauded by fans and critics alike. They followed up by releasing the EP Broken Dreams Club in 2010 which shared similar success.
In 2011, the band released their second LP, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”. The album saw a new direction for Girls whose sound had expanded from its simple indie rock roots to encompass elements of prog rock, hard rock and soul.
The following year, Owens announced he was ending Girls. White later said in interviews that the news didn’t exactly shock him. He said that his relationship with Owens had changed in such a way that an end seemed inevitable.
After Girls broke up, White remained in the music business working as a collaborator and producer. He worked with Cass McCombs and Glitz and the Spectrals. He also worked in the studio with DIIV although those sessions have not yet been released. He also played on and produced Tobias Jesso Jr.’s 2015 album Goon.