Rachel Nagy, the frontwoman of The Detroit Cobras, has passed away. The sad news was announced via the band’s social pages, with no cause of death given.
The Detroit Cobras came out of the same ’90s garage rock revival scene as The White Stripes, The Dirtbombs, and other bands. Nagy and guitarist Mary Ramirez, along with guitarist Greg Cartwright, formed the core of the group, joined by a rotating cast of other musicians throughout the years. Still an active band up until Nagy’s passing, The Detroit Cobras primarily recorded and performed covers of classic and little known R&B songs from the 1960s.
Nagy’s passing was revealed by Cartwright, who wrote the following via Instagram:
Dear friends, family and fans,
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce the loss of our beloved friend and musical colleague, Rachel Lee Nagy. There are no words to fully articulate our grief as we remember a life cut short, still vital and inspirational to all who knew and loved her. With the Detroit Cobras Rachel Nagy carried the torch of Rock, Soul and R&B to fans all over the world. More than just a performer, she embodied the spirit of the music itself and vaulted it to new heights with her own deeply affecting vocal power. I know that I am not alone when I say that I was inspired by her vitality, her fierce intensity and her vulnerability. Once plans have been finalized by the family we will post more information regarding further details to memorialize Rachel and pay tribute to her life. Until then, please know that if you are as devastated by this news as we are, you are not alone. We are with you in your grief. Rachel is survived by her brother Tony Nagy and her mother Marge Nagy.”
According to previous Instagram posts, The Detroit Cobras had a number of early January gigs lined up, with at least one, a January 7th hometown gig at Detroit’s El Club, postponed due to the recent COVID-19 surge.
In 2016, Jack White’s Third Man Records reissued The Detroit Cobras’ first two albums — 1998’s Mink, Rat or Rabbit and 2001’s Life, Love and Leaving. All told, the band has released four full-length efforts, most recently 2007’s Tied & True.
Third Man Records also issued a statement regarding Nagy’s passing, posting the following on Instagram: “In both her voice and personality, Rachel Nagy was the perfect balance of tough badass and absolute sweetheart. From the earliest White Stripes shows at the Magic Stick in Detroit through the Third Man 10th anniversary show in Nashville, Rachel and the Detroit Cobras have been a consistent inspiring presence in our world for nearly 25 years. We will truly miss the sound of her room-filling laughter, her no bullshit honesty, and her true friendship. Rest in power.”
Our condolences go out to Rachel Nagy’s family, friends, and bandmates during this difficult time. See The Detroit Cobras’ music videos for “Cha Cha Twist” (with Meg White appearing as a Little Red Riding Hood character) and the more recent “Stay Down,” followed by the aforementioned Instagram posts from the band and Third Man Records announcing Nagy’s passing.