R.I.P.: Rob Laakso, Guitarist of Kurt Vile and the Violators, Dead at 44
Longtime guitarist of Kurt Vile and the Violators and multi-instrumentalist, Rob Laakso, has passed away following a battle with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of bile duct cancer. He was 44 years old.
Laakso’s wife, Mamie-Claire Cornelius, confirmed his death in a heartfelt post and provided an update on a GoFundMe page created to support the family and Laakso’s cancer treatments.
She wrote on Instagram in a post that has since been taken down, “I am lost without you but I promise I’ll find our way and I promise to make you proud. Thank you for giving me the most beautiful life, the most loving and beautiful children and for believing in me every day. You are the light of my life and the only slightest sliver of peace I have is that you are no longer in pain. We’ll be dreaming of you every night until we see you again.”
She went on to write about bettering one’s self and how Laakso’s behavior inspired her to reflect on the importance of the present moment: “He pushed through so much just to sit and bask in the joy of our children running through bubbles in the backyard… that was absolute living to him in our most recent days,” she added. “It doesn’t have to be grand, just enjoy the present deeply.”
Originally from Massachusetts, Laakso earned a degree in audio from Emerson College in 2001. Laakso also performed and engineered all instruments for the theme song of Cartoon Network’s Superjail! and worked on audio projects for companies like Google, Apple, Adidas, and Epic Records. Before joining the Violators in 2011, Laakso was a member of several other bands, including Boston-based Swirlies. Smoke Ring for My Halo, Bottle It In, B’lieve I’m Goin Down..., and Watch My Moves – on the first two, he also served as co-producer.
Laakso also worked with several other groups, including Boston’s Swirlies and Mice Parade. His talents and contributions to the music industry will be remembered by many.
Read Cornelius’ full message below.
My darling dear, the children ran into the house after school yesterday searching for you, excited to tell you about their day. Lou made a drawing for you and Gus learned scientist are getting closer to creating real light sabers. I was rehearsing the news in my mind for hours but I wasn’t ready still. Gus asked where you were and when I dropped to my knees he knew what I was going to say. He told me he was thinking about you all day hoping you felt good. Lou later told me she knew you went to heaven while she was at school. I asked her how she knew but she just smiled. She is angry. Gus is teary. I am lost without you but I promise I’ll find our way and I promise to make you proud. Thank you for giving me the most beautiful life, the most loving and beautiful children and for believing in me every day. You are the light of my life and the only slightest sliver of peace I have is that you are no longer in pain. We’ll be dreaming of you every night until we see you again. Robert Daniel Laakso 4.16.79 – 5.4.23 I love you, I love you, I love you.