Music World mourns the loss of Rob Laakso of Kurt Vile and the Violators

Monday 08 May 2023

Rob Laakso, a talented guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who played in Kurt Vile and the Violators, passed away on May 4 at the age of 44, after battling cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of bile duct cancer. Mamie-Claire Cornelius, his wife, confirmed his death and shared her grief on Instagram. She thanked him for the most beautiful life, loving children, and for believing in her every day. She also revealed that his passing had brought some solace as he was no longer in pain.

In a statement on a GoFundMe page created to support the family and Laakso’s cancer treatments, Cornelius updated friends and fans of the family about his recent days. She said that she had prayed for a miracle every day since he was diagnosed but then prayed for a peaceful departure surrounded by love. She acknowledged that every day they spent together was a miracle and reminded everyone of Rob's love of life, his constant self-improvement, and his eagerness to try new things. She encouraged people to follow his example and enjoy the present deeply.

Laakso officially joined Kurt Vile and the Violators in 2011 after collaborating with Vile for several years. He replaced Adam Granduciel from the War on Drugs. Laakso played multiple instruments and was also a co-producer on several of Vile's solo and Violators records. These included 2009’s God Is Saying This to You…, 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo, 2013’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze, 2015’s B’lieve I’m Going Down…, and 2018’s Bottle It In, among others. His most recent album with Vile was 2022’s Watch My Moves.

Before joining Vile, Laakso played with several other groups, including Swirlies and Mice Parade. He appeared on Obrigado Saudade in 2004, Mice Parade in 2007, and What It Means to Be Left-Handed in 2010. Besides his production work with Vile, he was also an audio engineer for Mice Parade, No Joy, and other artists.

Rob Laakso was a highly respected musician and a vital part of the music community. His contributions to the music industry will be remembered for years to come, and he will be deeply missed.