Surfer Blood guitarist Thomas Fekete passed away at the age of 27 on Monday after battling a rare, aggressive form of cancer. His wife, Jess, wrote on the musician’s GoFundMe page that was made to cover medical expenses.
“Even as his body failed him, his mind and spirit soldiered on,” his wife wrote. “Never was there a day that we weren’t filled with hope. Never was there a day that he even considered throwing in the towel. He was the kind-hearted, funny, fearless, magnetic beam of light you all knew him to be up until his very last breath.” She added at the end: “Now, my beautiful angel, go find Bowie and jam.”
Fekete revealed his illness to fans in April of 2015. According to Rolling Stone, “The guitarist wrote that he had had major surgery to remove a large tumor from his abdomen, but that doctors had discovered that the cancer had spread to his lungs and spine.”
He continued to release music and fight through the battle. His last LP was a cassette-only album released in December, titled Burner.
“Sometime between March and June of 2015 while healing from two surgeries and starting chemotherapy, I hunched over my four-track and created this disaster,” Fekete said in a statement. “No multiple takes, no expensive mics, no outside direction … just me in my bedroom with a very cheap, bare bones setup.”
All the proceeds from Burner helped fund Fekete’s medical costs. During the time, Surfer Blood also staged a series of benefit shows on Fekete’s behalf, but according to Rolling Stone, “the donations from those shows were stolen when the band’s van was broken into on the outskirts of Chicago.”
Other bands including: Yo La Tengo, Guided By Voices, Cults, Real Estate and more helped raise money by contributing unreleased songs, live tracks, demos, and more to a compilation sold through the GoFundMe page.
John Paul Pitts and Tyler Schwarz, Surfer Blood co-founders first met Fekete and bassist Brian Black at an Ultra Music Festival afterparty in Miami. They then got to work to release their debut album in 2010, Astro Coast. The group went on to release three more albums including, Tarot Classics in 2011, Pythons in 2013, and 1000 Palms in 2015.
Jess Fekete will be hosting a celebration of Thomas’ life on the beach in South Florida, the first weekend of July, after Thomas’ birthday on the 1st. Specific details will come soon, but, “anyone who holds Thomas in their hearts,” is invited to celebrate.