Tim Smith dies: Tributes to Cardiacs frontman 'who changed people for the better'
Cardiacs frontman Tim Smith has been remembered as someone who “changed people for the better” after his death at the age of 59.
The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist founded the British cult rock band in 1977, with groups including Radiohead and Blur citing their art-pop psychedelic sound as a major influence.
Smith suffered a heart attack in 2008 which caused him to develop the rare neurological disorder dystonia, with the condition affecting his speech and movement.
Mary Wren, manager of the band’s record label Alphabet Business Concern, said in a statement on Wednesday: “Despite the struggles Tim faced over the last 12 years, we all somehow felt he would never leave us.
“This is, in part, because he looked at death square in the face, with his good and true eye, so many times and won.
“It was also wishful thinking, though, because we knew the abyss-like hole he would leave in all our lives.”
She added: “At this time, we are comforted by the fact that he left us quietly, albeit suddenly, and that no monsters got their filthy claws in him while we weren’t looking – when we were looking, they didn’t stand a chance.
“His fans adored him. He changed people for the better. He saved lives. His music was a refuge for those in need and he never locked his door or turned anyone away.
“I feel as if church bells across the land should be ringing out his name. We love him fiercely.”
A lengthy statement on the Cardiacs’ website in 2018 outlined how the condition had continued to impair his dexterity and ability to speak, and also caused painful muscle spasms.
A Crowdfunder, started three years ago to pay for his treatment and care, raised more than £124,000.
Smith, who was born in Surrey in 1961, began his musical career in 1975 after forming a nameless band at school in which he played guitar.
He went on to form Cardiac Arrest with Michael Pugh on lead vocals, Peter Tagg on drums and himself on guitar and backing vocals.
So sad to hear about Tim Smith, the Cardiacs influenced so many, my good friend John has worked with him for many years, my thoughts go out to his family and friends RIP
— Calling All Astronauts (@CAA_Official) July 22, 2020
The original line-up was completed by his brother Jim, who joined on bass and backing vocals.
Following their debut album they dropped the word Arrest from their name, going on to record eight studio albums plus a number of live albums with a changing line-up.
Their theatrical performance style and diverse songwriting failed to impact the charts but won them high-profile fans including Napalm Death and Faith No More.
They went on indefinite hiatus in 2007 after Smith was taken to hospital.
Bands and artists including The Magic Numbers, Calling All Astronauts, Chris Catalyst and Dutch Uncles paid tribute on social media.