As confirmed with a post on his official website and reported by Variety, power-pop singer-songwriter Tommy Keene has died. The post gave no cause of death, simply saying that he died “unexpectedly, but peacefully, in his sleep.” Keene was 59.
Through a career that spanned nearly 40 years, Keene developed a dedicated cult following and released 11 full-length albums and a number of EPs and other compilations, working with influential producers like T-Bone Burnett and Don Dixon. He also collaborated with other similar artists in the indie community, including Matthew Sweet, the Goo Goo Dolls, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg, and Robert Pollard—with the two of them releasing an EP together as The Keene Brothers.
Born in Illinois in 1958, Keene was raised in Maryland and began his music career in the ‘70s by playing with Washington D.C.-area bands like the Razz. He launched his solo career in the ‘80s, with the title track from his 1984 EP Places That Are Gone going on to become one of his biggest hits, both critically and commercially. After a foray into the major labels for 1986's successful Songs From The Film and the darker turn of 1989's Based On Happy Times, Keene took a break from recording and then returned to the indie world for a few albums in the ‘90s and early 2000s.
Brooklyn Vegan compiled some memorials for Keene from his friends and collaborators:
Keene is survived by his partner, Michael Lundsgaard.