Lo-Fi Loss: Jim Shepard Dead

Pioneering indie rocker Jim Shepard commits suicide

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The experimental rock scene lost one of its leading lights over the weekend when Jim Shepard, the charismatic leader of such influential underground bands as Vertical Slit and V3, committed suicide at his home in Columbus, Ohio.

Shepard, who was forty-four, began his primordial assault on the collective consciousness back in the late Seventies, presaging the lo-fi revolution to come on a slew of self-released cassettes and micro-pressed albums. After an enforced break -- one caused by a work injury that left him with a severely mangled hand -- Shepard turned the Vertical Slit "project" into a full-time band, with an attendant name change to V-3.

In an odd twist of fate, that band would actually garner a major label deal, signing to American, which released the 1996 opus Photograph Burns. Never one to let anything change his modus operandi, Shepard recorded the disc for under $500, making it one of the notoriously in-the-red label's few releases to actually turn a profit. Still, the union didn't work out, leaving Shepard to self-release what would be the final V-3 album, Pimping in the '90s. Outside his own records, Shepard also lent his musical talents to numerous indie and metal projects, including Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard's '96 solo debut, Not In My Airforce (guitar, vocals, engineering) and last year's Judas Priest tribute album, Legends of Metal, on which he played bass.

In recent months, Shepard had been working on a wide variety of solo material, some of which is likely to be released next year. He is survived by two sons.