Vic Chesnutt dies following suspected overdose

Michael Stipe and Kristin Hersh pay tribute to songwriter

Vic Chesnutt has died of a suspected overdose in his home county of Athens, Georgia, his record label Constellation Records have confirmed. He was 45.

The songwriter, who has worked with R.E.M's Michael Stipe, passed away on December 25. He had been in a coma that was the result of an overdose of muscle relaxers, taken earlier this week, reports the New York Times.

Chesnutt had a history of suicide attempts, recently telling NPR radio station he had "attempted suicide three or four times" but that "it didn't take". Left in a wheelchair after a car accident when he was 18, Chesnutt released 16 albums in total, with 'At the Cut' and 'Skitter On Take-Off' both coming out in 2009. Acts including Madonna, Sparklehorse, The Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M covered his songs on 1996 tribute album 'Sweet Relief II: Gravity Of The Situation'.

Throwing Muses member Kristin Hersh (who was also a long-term collaborator with Chesnutt), Tweeted that he appeared to have left a suicide note before slipping into the coma.

Hersh wrote: "This time, it's real scary: This time, he left a note, this time, he asked them to call me."

She has also has set up a donation account to help Chesnutt's family, at Kristinhersh.cashmusic.org.

R.E.M's Stipe, who produced two albums by Chesnutt, paid tribute to him in a radio interview with NPR.

"He was able to bring levity to very dark emotions and feelings, and he had a humour that was really quite unusual," Stipe said. "I said recently that I thought he was one of our greatest songwriters, and one of our greatest voices."

A further post from Stipe on REMhq.com said simply: "We have lost one of our great ones."

Chesnutt is survived by his wife, Tina Whatley Chesnutt; a sister, Lorinda Crane; and nine nieces and nephews. A memorial for the singer is taking place today (December 27) in Athens.

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