Spoon's Britt Daniel Remembers Jay Reatard as 'Likable' and 'Crazed'
On Dec. 31, 2009, the last day of what had been the biggest year of his decade-long career, Jay Reatard performed at Milwaukee's Riverside Theater. According to Britt Daniel, whose band, Spoon, was the evening's headliner, Reatard was in good spirits. There was nothing to suggest the Memphis garage rocker was playing his final show, or that he might die two weeks later, on Jan. 13, of a drug overdose.
Elizabeth Weinberg, Retna
"He seemed more stable and happier than I'd ever seen," Daniel tells Spinner. "He was always happy, and he was always a talkative guy, but he just seemed really centered and cool and chill the last time I saw him, so I was pretty shocked to hear two weeks later he was no longer with us."
Daniel and Reatard weren't close friends, but they did hang out the handful of times their bands played together. The first was on July 15, 2008, when Reatard supported Spoon at the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn, N.Y. Daniel had personally invited Reatard to open the show, having recently become a fan. Like many people, his first exposure to Reatard's music had come via the series of 7-inch singles he'd released throughout 2008 on Matador Records.
"That was really when I first started looking into him," Daniel says. "I remember looking at a bunch of the live videos online and feeling like ... I don't know. That's not how I usually learn about music. I remember for some reason being really turned on by looking at these live videos. It just felt like really great pop songs with a sort of very odd Midwestern punk sensibility to it."
Given Reatard's reputation, Daniel wasn't sure the two would get along. Three months earlier, in April 2008, Reatard had made headlines for punching out a fan in Toronto, and