Obits — February 25, 2020 at 9:45 pm

David Roback, co-founder of The Rain Parade, Opal and Mazzy Star, dead at 61

David Roback, who helped create the neo-psychedelic Paisley Underground scene of the 1980s through his bands The Rain Parade and Opal before gaining his greatest acclaim alongside Hope Sandoval in Mazzy Star, died Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The reclusive songwriter and guitarist known for his stark yet evocative playing was 61. His publicist confirmed his passing, but no cause of death was immediately announced, the Times reported. His mother, Rosemary Roback, later revealed the cause was metastatic cancer, according to the New York Times.

Roback co-founded The Rain Parade with Matt Piucci and eventually drafted his brother, Steven Roback, and Will Glenn and Eddie Kalwa to fill out its ranks. The band’s 1983 debut, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, remains a high-water mark for Los Angeles’ Paisley Underground scene, which also counted The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate and The Three O’Clock as key members.

But not long after the album’s release, Roback left The Rain Parade and joined Rainy Day, a Paisley Underground supergroup of sorts — it featured members of each of the aforementioned bands — that recorded a single album of classic-rock era covers.

Moving on again, Roback formed Opal with singer-bassist Kendra Smith of The Dream Syndicate, and the band released two EPs and a full-length album, Happy Nightmare Baby, between 1984 and 1987 before Smith left the band. She was replaced by Sandoval, and the group changed its name to Mazzy Star.

Mazzy Star continued into the ’90s, scoring a huge MTV-era hit with “Fade Into You” and releasing four albums through that decade and after reuniting in the 2000s. The band most recently released an EP in 2018 after playing a string of concerts, their first in five years.

Below, some of Roback’s best-loved music — and remembrances from fellow musicians.














  1. I am so sad to see this bit of news. David had a hand in the creation of some of my all time favorite albums. His guitar tone is unmistakable and gave the music he made an otherworldly feel. David’s mercurial spirit is completely lost on today’s world. He was a true original and he will be missed.

  2. Very sad news. He left behind a long legacy of great music with every band he was in.

    If possible, it would be great to get a tune of his in (from any of his bands) on this week’s Dark Wave in his honor.

  3. Joseph Cebelinski

    RIP David. Your musical contributions will live on.

  4. Emergency Third Rail Power Trip is still one of my favorites. When he left the Rain Parade, he took an awful lot with him. Thankfully he got Mazzy Star rolling. Among My Swan is the standout from that group, imo. Kinda enigmatic, that guy. Didn’t hear a lot about him in the press or online. I guess he preferred to let his guitar/songwriting/production do the talking. R.I.P

  5. Rain Parade, Opal and Mazzy Star … that’s an amazing legacy to leave behind.

  6. Haunted when the minutes drag

    Very sad news. I had a very serious girlfriend in the 90s. We live in San Francisco. We spent countless hours in bed listening to the first two Mazzy Star’s album. To this day, I have mixed feelings about listening to those records. They are so good, but they bring back strange and complicated emotions. Kudos to you Jeni for having that profound of an eddy on me after all these years. All that aside, the music was incredible.

    For darkwave this week, it would be fitting to play ghost on the highway.

  7. Haunted when the minutes drag

    Stupid Siri. Eddy = effect.

  8. Weird. I just heard some Rain Parade the day before this news broke.

  9. Darwin h saunders

    My favorite guitarist is gone. Rest in psychedelic peace David. You were one of a kind – and your lack of interest in show business- was of great appeal to me.

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