Rachel Nagy, best known as the singer of the Michigan garage rock band the Detroit Cobras, has died, according to her representative. There was no mention of a cause of death.
The Third Man Records broke the news from their Instagram account ‘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.’
Rachel Nagy life
Nagy revealed in her role as one of the “bad girls by the exit doors at the school dance, all leather and heels, sneaking smokes and passing the flask.”
She eventually became friends with a group of musicians who couldn’t sing. They eventually drafted Nagy, despite his reluctance.
“It was all an accident,” Rachel Nagy recalled. “I was always near a group of people who started The Cobras while they practised. They couldn’t seem to find a singer, so they said to Rachel, “Hey Rachel, you know all the songs, why don’t you sing?” ‘Yeah, right,’ I said. Okay. Whatever. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.’ They gave me enough beer one day that I was completely unaware of what I was getting myself into. I awoke thinking, ‘Oh, I guess I’m in a band!'”
The early Cobras, according to Nagy, took their partying much more seriously than their music. “We were more of a circus, constantly doing crazy things. At one point, I realized I was no longer 20, but 22! People are paying to see us, so let’s not insult ourselves and our fans by making a shambles of it all.”
So Rachel Nagy and guitarist pal Mary Ramirez decided to take things seriously by reconstituting the band after a two-year hiatus, with new personnel and a renewed sense of purpose. It was a decision that enraged some of Cobra’s most ardent supporters.
“There seemed to be two camps after that,” Nagy said. “People approached me and said, ‘Man, you’re just not as much fun as you used to be.’ There was another, much larger group of people who were saying, ‘Wow, you guys are actually a really good band.'”
Even at that point, Nagy and her pals had little ambition other than to keep having fun onstage. “We had no illusions about taking over the world or becoming megastars. That has never happened before. We have been extremely fortunate in everything that has happened to us. That’s the amusing part: we’ve always been a little sloppy, flying by the seat of our pants. I guess we’re contented underachievers. We do this because we want to have a good time with other people. Just play as well as you can, have fun, and hopefully, it reflects back to the fans, who will pick up on it and have a good time as well.”
The Detroit Cobras signed with Sympathy for the Record Industry and released Mink, Rat or Rabbit, their first full-length album, in 1998. After a three-year hiatus, they returned with their second album, Life, Love, and Leaving. The two albums were entirely made up of cover versions of popular 1960s songs. Their retro-garage rock formula proved popular in the UK, prompting Rough Trade Records in London to sign the band. In 2003, they released an EP called Seven Easy Pieces, followed by their third full-length album, Baby, in 2004. Baby deviated from Cobras tradition by including one original song, “Hot Dog (Watch Me Eat).” Bloodshot (who added the songs from the Seven Easy Pieces EP to the end of Baby) picked up Baby for release in the United States. Tied & True, the band’s fourth full-length album, was released in April 2007.
As noted in the sidebar, the band is known for frequent lineup changes. They usually have a touring lineup that is distinct from their recording lineup. Along with Nagy and Ramirez, who have been with the group since its inception, Greg Cartwright of Reigning Sound (aka Greg Oblivian of The Oblivians) has been a constant creative force.
The Detroit Cobras supported X on their 13×31 tour in the summer of 2008. The Detroit Cobras headlined a tour with the Dex Romweber Duo in the summer of 2009.