Black Train Jack and Nine Lives frontman, Rob Vitale, has passed due to complications from COVID-19. Vitale had been a member of the New York hardcore scene, with many bands who had known him confirming his death and offering their condolences.
“Yesterday was a tough day,” Vitale’s band, Nine Lives, had said via Facebook. “We lost our brother, Rob. His spirit and memory, and of course, his incredible voice, will live with us all forever. Please share a photo or a memory, always keep him in your thoughts. We love you, Rob Vitale, may you be at peace.”
With Black Train Jack, Vitale had released two albums, 1993’s No Reward and ‘94’s You’re Not Alone. The band broke up in 1995, only remaining together for a few years, however, they would occasionally reunite for one-off performances. He formed Nine Lives after the breakup of Black Train Jack, releasing several albums with them.
During an interview last year with Ox Fanzine, Vitale had reflected on the legacy left behind by Black Train Jack, who had been notable in the New York hardcore scene.
“I’m glad that after all these years our music still has a place with you and many others,” Vitale had said. “We did our best to get noticed and to go musically unusual paths. NYHC roots combined with a large dose of punk rock, blues and even a touch of classic rock. These were our individual influences. Back then we were the only New York band that stood for a mix of hardcore and melody. We had good song structures and mastered our instruments. Have we smuggled our way into the hardcore scene? No! Were we another facet to explore? Yes! Who really wants to experience four bands on one show that all look the same, sound the same and have the same content? People need variety.”
Friends and fans of Vitale have taken to social media in tribute of the musician. Danny Diablo shared, “ROB VITALE REST IN PEACE MY BROTHER!!! ONE OF THE BEST SINGING VOICES IN NEW YORK HARDCORE!!! BLACK TRAIN JACK”
ROB VITALE REST IN PEACE MY BROTHER!!! ONE OF THE BEST SINGING VOICES IN NEW YORK HARDCORE!!! BLACK TRAIN JACK pic.twitter.com/VsFUKeiRk1
— DANNY DIABLO (@DannyDiablo) March 29, 2021
Sick Of It All shared a tribute to Facebook, saying, “Our hearts are heavy tonight. We lost our firend to Covid. Thinking of all the shows, the tours all the good times we laughed and shared. Rest In Peace Rob”
Our hearts are heavy tonight. We lost our friend to Covid. Thinking of all the shows, the tours all the good times and laughs we shared.
Rest In Peace Rob
Posted by Sick Of It All on Sunday, March 28, 2021
Many other influential musicians have died throughout the pandemic, including Harold Budd, Paul “Ganxsta Ridd” Devoux, Rev. John Wilkins, Tommy DeVito, Dave Greenfield, John Prine, Hal Willner, Ellias Marsalis, Adam Schlesinger and Wallace Roney. However, with vaccines becoming more accessible, there is hope that the pandemic will be over soon.