The Clean’s Hamish Kilgour 1957 – 2022

The influential New Zealand musician had been missing for several days.

By Andy Kahn Dec 6, 2022 7:25 am PST

Hamish Kilgour of the influential band The Clean has died at age 65. Last month, Kilgour was reported missing in his native New Zealand. His death was confirmed by his label, Merge Records, which issued the statement below:

With very heavy hearts, we can confirm that Hamish Kilgour has passed away in his home country of New Zealand.

As a founding member of The Clean, with his brother David and Robert Scott, Hamish produced one of the most important and timeless bodies of work in rock music. As a drummer, Hamish had a propulsive, instantly recognizable style and an understated power; he was a joy to watch play.

Hamish was one of the most colorful and creative musicians we have been lucky to work with, both as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with the group he started with Lisa Siegel, The Mad Scene, and of course, with The Clean. Hamish was also an accomplished visual artist, and his fantastical drawings adorn many record sleeves.

We feel lucky to have known him. Our thoughts are with his family and his fellow members of the New Zealand music community. Safe travels, Hamish.

Ba Da Bing! Records co-founder Ben Goldberg, whose label also issued Kilgour’s recordings, released a statement as well:

“Hamish was inscrutable in his kindness, his love of music, and his politics. Even at his lowest moments, he never lost sight of his ideals. You can hear his heart in every beat, strum, and syllable he made.”

Hamish Kilgour was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 17, 1957. With his brother David Kilgour on guitar and Hamish on drums, the siblings formed The Clean in Dunedin in 1978 and soon became entrenched in what became known as the Dunedin Sound, which was championed by Roger Shepherd’s Flying Nun Records label.

The Clean’s debut single, “Tally Ho!,” was issued by Flying Nun in 1981 and was the independent label’s second release. The band’s debut EP, Boodle Boodle Boodle, came out that same year. The rest of the decade saw The Clean release a live EP and various compilations of unreleased material.

The Clean’s first full-length album was 1990’s Vehicle. Additional LPs followed with 1994’s Modern Rock, 1996’s Unknown Country and 2001’s Getaway. A final The Clean album, Mister Pop, was issued by Merge in 2009.

In the 1990s, Hamish Kilgour relocated to New York City. He became involved in the group The Mad Scene and released the 1992 EP Falling Over, Spilling Over. The following year, The Mad Scene released their debut album, A Trip Thru Monsterland through Flying Nun. The group’s sophomore LP, Sealight came out via Merge in 1996.

In 2014, Hamish Kilgour’s debut solo album, All Of It And Nothing, was issued by Ba Da Bing. He and The Clean became members of the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2017.

Kilgour was last seen on November 27 at a shopping center in Christchurch. His family reported him missing on December 1. A cause of death has not been confirmed.

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