Wax Trax! Records

This week saw the passing of a key figure in the ’80s and early-’90s industrial-dance scene: Dannie Flesher, co-founder of Chicago’s hugely influential Wax Trax! Records, the label behind such pioneering acts as Ministry, Front 242, KMFDM and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult.

Flesher, 58, died Sunday at a care facility in his hometown of Hope, Ark., of AIDS-related pneumonia, according to the Waveformless blog, which first reported Flesher’s passing this morning. His partner, Jim Nash, also died of complications form AIDS in 1995.

Nash and Flesher launched Wax Trax! as a record store in Denver in 1970s, then moved to Chicago in 1978. They sold the Denver store (it’s still operating) and reopened in the Windy City, ultimately expanding their shop into an actual record label, releasing music by underground industrial-dance groups.

Chris Connelly, who came from Scotland in the mid-’80s to record with Ministry and the Revolting Cocks, today told the Chicago Tribune that Flesher and Nash “had something people wanted, they had great taste in music, and for a while it just got bigger.”

The record label ultimately went bankrupt in the early ’90s, and Flesher and Nash sold it in 1992 to TVT Records, which kept the imprint alive for a few more years. Perhaps the best musical testament to the duo’s vision is the 3CD compilation Black Box: Wax Trax! Records, The First 13 Years (even though it doesn’t include any Front 242.)

Waveformless summed up the legacy of Flesher and Nash quite eloquently: “I never met either one, but the impact the music on their label had on me was literally life-changing. The label was what introduced me to industrial dance music and made my angsty teenage years just a little bit more tolerable.”

Read Flesher’s obituary by the Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot right here.

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