Big Black former bassist Dave Riley dies following battle with cancer

He was 59

Dave Riley, the former bassist of Big Black, has died at the age of 59 following a short battle with cancer.

Riley, who played on both of the Chicago hardcore band’s albums alongside guitarist Santiago Durango, and Steve Albini, died on Tuesday (December 24) after being diagnosed with throat and lung cancer back in August.

Riley’s friend and housemate Rachel Brown confirmed the news on social media.

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“Sad news my Chicago friends,” Brown said in a statement on Facebook. “My dearest friend and longtime housemate Dave Riley lost his short battle with cancer this morning. In late August he developed a persistent sore throat which wasn’t responsive to antibiotics. Initially dismissed as acid-reflux, further testing showed that he had a large squamous cell carcinoma in his throat which had already spread to several places in his lungs. Since treatment wouldn’t have made any difference, Dave chose to come home to die.

“His doctor predicted that he had about six months left, but sadly the cancer was so aggressive that he didn’t even make it an additional two.”

See Brown’s statement below:

David Riley7/30/1960 – 12/24/2019Sad news my Chicago friends. My dearest friend and longtime housemate Dave Riley…

Posted by Rachel Brown on Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Riley played in Big Black from 1985 to 1987. He performed on the only two Big Black records, ‘Atomizer’ and ‘Songs About Fucking’. Prior to his work with the band, Riley earned engineering credits on Parliament’s 1980 album ‘Trombipulation’ and Funkadelic’s ‘The Electric Spanking of War Babies’.

“Dave’s passing fills me with sadness,” Big Black’s Durango told Rolling Stone after his passing. “Many of my favourite Big Black memories involve Dave, including the riot he single-handedly started by taunting the audience at one of our shows in Australia. A wicked prankster. Funny, charming, smart and talented. I would glue myself to Dave on our tours. Dave was a positive force in my life and I will miss him dearly.”

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