The cult singer-songwriter Emitt Rhodes has died at the age of 70. Tony Blass — the director of a documentary about Rhodes’ career, The One Man Beatles — shared the news on Twitter.
Rhodes was born in 1950 and was part of his first band at the age of 14. He attracted the attention of A&M Records in high school, while part of a group called the Merry-Go-Round. They released an album in 1967, but he left the band soon after and pursued a solo career, setting up a studio in a shed at his parent’s house. On his three proper solo albums — 1970’s Emitt Rhodes, 1971’s Mirror, and 1973’s Farewell To Paradise — he played and recorded all of the instruments himself, creating intricately layered and baroque power-pop songs that would make you think he had a full band behind him.
Following that last album and an argument with his label at that time, he became an in-house producer and engineer for Elektra Records. Though he would continue to record music and had a few false starts at projects of his own, it wouldn’t be until 2016 that he’d release a new full-length, Rainbow Ends, his first new album in 43 years. He recruited a full band for that one, and it featured contributions from Jon Brion, Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs, Nels Cline, and more.
In 2009, his solo songs were compiled onto The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969-1973).