Her ethereal and calm voice provided a soft cushion to bring out the boisterous pairing and wild noise of the grunge era their band came out from. For three decades, I humbly co-managed one of Minnesota’s most popular rock bands of all time.
On Saturday night, Mimi Parker of the internationally famous Duluth rock trio was silenced by cancer.
The news of her death at the age of 55 was announced in a statement from her husband and colleague, Alan Sparhawk, on Low’s Twitter account.
“My friends, it is hard to put the universe into language and in a short message, but she passed away last night, surrounded by family and love, including yours,” the post read. “Keep her name close and sacred. Share this moment with someone who needs you. Love is really the most important thing.”
The drummer of Low as well as co-vocalist Parker were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2020.
She is survived by daughter Hollis and son Cyrus (both of college age), as well as her husband, whom she met in elementary school in the small town of Clearbrook in northern Minnesota.
Practicing Mormons—often having their faith played out in song lyrics alluding to the end of time, morality, and redemption—the couple took to rock ‘n’ roll on tour shortly after their move to Duluth and formed Low in 1993 with a string of different bassists.
They released 13 studio albums and gained a steady following over the following years. Their most recent recording, “Hey What,” was among several critically acclaimed songs, including appearing at the top of Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 Best Albums of 2021.
“Mim had a unique and shaky voice [and] Lovely and caring friend,” said Dave Simonet, who was stomped by the Turtles captain, Sunday from the road, using the alias Sparhawk and close friends of Parker.
“She made some of the most beautiful music this world has known. We will miss her very much.”
Parker mostly kept her diagnosis until an interview with the band radio show “Sheroes” in 2021. Even after that interview, she refused to make her cancer treatment a talking point in news stories about Low until she forced the band to cancel their tour dates in August.
Among the postponed concerts, the US Death Cab flight for Cutie and main dates in Europe opened. Low has had a strong following across the Atlantic, which can be traced back to the early and eager support of the influential BBC DJ John Peel and touring with Radiohead, one of the many bands best known to cite the influence of the trio.
A famous fan of the group was Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, who re-recorded two Lou songs on his 2010 album “Band of Joy”.
Low’s initial albums like “I Can Live in Hope” were famous for being quiet and – according to the band’s name – low in volume and tempo, qualities that saw the music term “slow-core” used poorly in reviews. That changed forever with 2005’s buzziest masterpiece “The Great Destroyer”, the band’s first of seven recordings to Seattle label Sub Pop Records of Nirvana fame.
“I’ve never felt strong, or anything unnatural,” Parker said of their amplified voice in a 2005 Star Tribune interview. “We’re going to work on songs and look at each other like, ‘Where did that come from?'”
Perhaps Lowe’s most famous album is 1999’s “Christmas,” an eight-song set of new and traditional holiday tunes infused with the couple’s icy harmony as well as their true Christian faith. He will appear in TV commercials for Gap and make several lists of top Christmas rock albums.
Parker, Sparhawk and new guitarist Liz Draper were able to perform at clubs and festivals across America and Europe in the first half of 2022, hitting the hit “Hey What” before Parker needed further treatment.
In an interview this summer, Parker said she and Sparhawk highlighted the unique lyrical parts on the critically acclaimed 2021 album.
“When we got to recording singing on this recording, we were like, ‘Whoa! “They were kind of eye-catching and focused,” she said. We sang very well. So that became kind of a cornerstone.”
The trio pressed into one last short set in Duluth this past Labor Day weekend for the Water Is Life ecological gathering at Bayfront Festival Park. The Twin Cities’ latest performance was meaningful: The group sponsored the Garden Theater in June at what turned out to be Walker Arts Center’s last Rock the Garden Festival, where Low made waves in 2013 with the Drone Improvements group.
Draper recalled a moment during one of the band’s last shows this summer when an audience member shouted, “Mimi, you’re an angel!”
The guitarist said, “I remember that everyone who cried was right: Mim is a bright light, and we have been blessed with strength and grace here on earth.”
“Mim was so stoic and sweet. She was a great mom. If she really was a mom system, I feel very lucky to have been able to make music with her.”
Longtime Low’s sound engineer Tom Herbers, who has worked with the band since 1994 and is practically a fourth member, said he used to remain “emotionally exhausted during the show, even after all these years” because of Parker’s “transcendental” voice.
Off stage, Herbers added that he appreciated her “sense of humour, sharp wit, and light-hearted attitude.”
Reaction to Parker’s death quickly piled up on social media on Sunday, with many of her fellow musicians and fans celebrating her music career as well as her reserved, positive, and steady personality.
“Grateful for all your beautiful music,” Dan Wilson of Semisonic fame tweeted.
Fellow Duluth musician Jaylene Lea wrote, “Mimi’s legacy is love and beauty, and the world is better because of her.”
Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy — who produced Low’s 2013 album “The Invisible Way” and frequently recruited them as the opening lead — posted a musical tribute to his Substack feed featuring his own version of the sombre song “I Hear…Good Night,” which was originally recorded with The Australian Trio The Dirty Three.
Sub Pop Records tweeted in response to the news, “Forever close and sacred. We love you guys.”
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson tweeted to Sparhawk and family: “This community loves you and we’re here to support you. We’re so sorry for the loss of your music, your life and your family partner. Mee Meme’s beautiful voice and deep love echo further and light your way forward.”
#Duluth #music #star #Mimi #Parker #rock #band #Law #dies #cancer #age