LOW – Mimi Parker Passes at 55 Years of Age

Posted: November 7, 2022 in MUSIC

Low drummer-vocalist Mimi Parker dies, age 55, after two-year battle with ovarian cancer, Alongside husband Alan Sparhawk, Parker formed Low in the early 90s, and their minimal alternative to the era’s grunge-heavy music saw them acclaimed as one of indie-rock’s most original bands. Parker was born in 1967 and grew up in a small town outside of Bemidji, Minnesota. She began experimenting with music from a young age, coming up with harmonies to complement her sister’s guitar and leads. The pair sang along to the old country and gospel records introduced to them by their parents.

She knew how to let her art speak for itself, anchoring Low’s songs with a steady heartbeat pulse while summoning a hazy effect with her mesmerizing voice. She was the aching spirit that shaped Low’s incomparable sound.

Mimi Parker, the founding drummer-vocalist for the ‘slowcore’ indie-rock band Low, passed away at age 55 on Saturday night inside her Duluth, MN home after a two-year battle with ovarian cancer. Fans were first made aware of Mimi’s health problems on August 15th when the band announced they had to cancel concerts in Wales, Scandanavia, England, and Scotland due to her ‘fighting cancer’ which made ‘travel impossible.’

Parker met future bandmate and husband Alan Sparhawk at primary school, before they formed Low in 1993, with bassist John Nichols. Initially she played a modest drum kit composed of just a snare, cymbal and floor tom, and used brushes instead of drumsticks. The band’s debut album, “I Could Live in Hope”, was released in 1994, and later included in Pitchfork’s 1999 list of the best albums of the 1990s.

While supplementary members of the band came and went, Parker and Sparhawk remained at the helm throughout Low’s almost-30 year history. With their slow, minimal arrangements and often quiet delivery, Low are recognised as one of the most original and accomplished names in indie rock. 

‘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,’ her husband and bandmate Alan Sparhawk announced Sunday.

‘Keep her name close and sacred. Share this moment with someone who needs you. Love is indeed the most important thing.’

Aside from Sparhawk, Parker is survived by their two adult children – 22-year-old daughter Hollis Mae and 18-year-old son George Cyrus.

Former Low bassist Zak Sally posted an old snap of Parker captioned: ‘I don’t have any words, other than that I treasure every moment I had with Mimi Parker, one of the most wonderful humans I’ve been lucky enough to know in this life. And so thankful I got to tell her that. I love you, Mim.’

Many of the band’s peers paid tribute online. “I heard the news in the most base circumstances, surrounded by degenerates, stuck and cursing, in a conference room in Deerfield,” wrote producer Steve Albini, who worked with the band on the 1996 Transmission EP and the albums “Secret Name” (1999) and “Things We Lost in the Fire” (2001). “I was momentarily overwhelmed, the sound of her voice resonant in my memory, beautiful and heartbreaking. Godspeed Mimi Parker.

Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite tweeted: ‘Absolutely heartbroken by the news about Mimi. Sending all my love to Alan and his family.’

Portishead frontman Geoff Barrow wrote: ‘Heartbroken by the news of Mimi Parker’s passing. Her voice with Alan’s often emotionally moved me unlike any other band. Their music together transcended all the bulls*** in the world and I will treasure every time I saw them play live or said hello to her at a festival.’

Everything But the Girl singer Tracey Thorn tweeted: ‘So sorry to hear this news. Love and condolences to all who knew and loved Mimi.’

Thorn’s bandmate Ben Watt tweeted: ‘Just unbearably sad to hear of the death of Low’s Mimi Parker. My heart goes out to Alan and their family. I feel honoured that our paths crossed more than once.’

Grammy nominee Will Sheff tweeted: ‘Mimi Parker’s voice had such depth and mystery – icy and opaque but also somehow warm and motherly, an uncannily perfect complement to Alan Sparhawk. And she had such presence onstage. She gifted Low with their extraordinarily powerful sense of gravity. Rest in peace.’

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