Bill Doss, a founding member of the seminal Athens psych-pop group the Olivia Tremor Control and an influential figure in the formation of the Elephant 6 collective, has died, as reported first by Flagpole Music and later confirmed by the band’s official site. He was 43 years old.
At this point there are few details about Doss’s death and the cause remains unknown. The band’s website currently reads, “We are devastated by the loss of our brother Bill Doss. We are at a loss for words.” Doss had recently performed with the band at the Pitchfork Music Festival and the group performed at the Georgia Theatre on July 26.
Doss grew up around Dubach, LA, where he befriended future collaborators Will Cullen Hart, Robert Schneider and Jeff Mangum. Schneider founded the Elephant 6 record company while attending college in Denver, but the label is most often associated with the Athens independent rock scene. While Schneider went on to form Apples In Stereo and Mangum recorded two beloved albums under the Neutral Milk Hotel name, Doss and Hart formed the Olivia Tremor Control, which released four full-length albums in the mid to late ’90s, along with various EPs and singles.
The band’s 1996 debut record, Music From The Unrealized Film Script: Dusk At Cubist Castle, remains a stunning combination of psychedelic rock and deeply warped power-pop. The album features many of the band’s sunniest and most hopeful moments, along with some of the its best hooks. 1999’s Black Foliage: Animation Music Vol. 1 was darker and more mysterious, but perhaps even more adventurous in its sonic experimentation.
Together those two albums represent the nadir of the dizzying creativity and musical ingenuity of the Elephant 6 collective. More so than Mangum’s deeply wounded, personal work, the Olivia Tremor Control’s albums always sounded like they emerged from a wonderful and strange hive mind. Doss was an essential architect of that idiosyncratic sound.
Following the breakup of the Olivia Tremor Control in 2000, Doss went on to release two albums under the Sunshine Fix name. He also toured with Apples In Stereo and was eventually considered a full-fledged member of the group. Olivia Tremor Control reunited in 2005 and has occasionally toured since then.
Listen to the OTC classics “Love Athena” and “Jumping Fences” below.