Guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist Nick Curran passed away October 6 at his home in Austin. He was 35 and had been undergoing treatment for cancer. Curran drew inspiration from the blues and rockabilly artists of the ’50s and earned a reputation for re-creating the feel, vibe, and swagger of classic R&B and rock.
Curran cut his teeth playing with rockabilly legends Ronnie Dawson and Kim Lenz. A native of Maine, he moved to Dallas and immersed himself in the Texas roots-music scene, releasing two albums, Fixin’ Your Head and Nitelife Boogie. He used vintage recording equipment and a one-take technique to achieve the sound and feel of vintage 45s.
His national debut, Doctor Velvet, on Blind Pig, was released in 2003, and Curran and his band, the Nitelifes, played festivals and clubs across the U.S. The album won a W.C. Handy Award for “Best New Artist Debut” and in ’04, they released Player!, but then broke up afterward when Curran joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds in time to record Painted On. He toured with the T-Birds for three years, and worked on side projects. His last album, Reform School Girl, was released in 2010 That year he was also diagnosed with oral cancer, and had been undergoing treatment until succumbing over the weekend.