Hamish Kilgour, Founding Member Of The Clean, Has Passed Away

6 December 2022 | 9:51 am | Mary Varvaris

The news of Kilgour's passing comes after he was reported missing last week.

(Source: Supplied)

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Hamish Kilgour has passed away, aged 65, after being reported missing on 1 December. He was last seen at The Palms Shopping Centre in Christchurch on 27 November - no cause of death has been revealed. Kilgour co-founded the New Zealand band The Clean as a drummer and singer.

"With very heavy hearts, we can confirm that Hamish Kilgour has passed away in his home country of New Zealand," The Clean's US label Merge Records told Pitchfork. The publication also reported on Kilgour going missing last week.

"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 colourful 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. Save travels, Hamish."

Ben Goldberg, co-founder of Ba Da Bing! Records, who released Kilgour's solo music, also stated: "Hamish was inscrutable in his kindness, love of music, and 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."

In an interview with David Kilgour, Steve Bell wrote: Taking their cues from the artier end of the rock spectrum (The Velvet Underground and The Stooges in particular) and mixing it with jangly, '60s-sounding guitars inspired by bands such as The Byrds, Kiwi acts such as The Clean, The Chills, The Verlaines and The Tall Dwarfs were soon putting their city on the musical map with what became known as the 'Dunedin Sound'. 

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However, of all these seminal Dunedin bands, it's The Clean who have arguably left the greatest legacy. By about 1980, the band's 'classic line-up' of David Kilgour (vocals/guitar), his brother Hamish (drums) and bassist Robert Scott (also frontman for The Bats) had coalesced, releasing a couple of experimental-sounding EPs and a handful of singles before promptly disbanding and remaining inactive for much of the '80s. 

When they reformed at the end of that decade, they'd settled on a slightly more accessible vibe and, in their sporadic forays together in the intervening years, they've since put out five studio albums (plus numerous compilations and live recordings), crafting a body of work that has made them cult heroes the world over.

Many journalists and music industry professionals have begun sharing tributes to Hamish Kilgour.