Oklahoma native Benjamin Curtis, one-half of the Brooklyn-based band School of Seven Bells, passed away from the effects of T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma last night at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was 35.
Benjamin announced his diagnosis in February 2013, immediately receiving support from his friends in the music community. Members of Polyphonic Spree, Silversun Pickups, Blonde Redhead, Active Child, M83, Afghan Whigs and Cocteau Twins sent messages of support to Benjamin through Filter Magazine. In August 2013, members of Interpol and The Strokes, along with Danny Masterson, Alexa Chung, Fabrizio Moretti & Devendra Banhart performed at a benefit concert for Benjamin in New York.
As a member of School of Seven Bells, Benjamin sang and played guitar. The group released three albums and an EP since their formation in 2007.
Benjamin, who lived in Lawton, Frederick and Norman, was the guitarist and backing vocalist for the rock band The Secret Machines from 2000 to 2007, leaving the band to launch School of Seven Bells. Also in Secret Machines was Benjamin’s brother Brandon and cousin, fellow Oklahoma native and drummer Josh Garza. David Bowie claimed to be a fan on Secret Machines.
“To see David Bowie’s face smiling down on you while you’re playing is definitely…beyond surreal, really. But it’s one of those things that happens, where you’re on tour, people start saying that Bowie’s into you, and after a while you realize that people are paying attention to this, like ‘Oh, Secret Machines are that band that David Bowie likes.’ And next thing you know, he’s hanging out, shooting the breeze at a gig. And I guess that’s how these things happen — kind of gradually.” - Benjamin Curtis
Before the Secret Machines, Benjamin was the drummer for the Dallas-based band Tripping Daisy, from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the drummer for UFOFU from 1993 to 1997, also with his brother Brandon Curtis.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Benjamin’s family, bandmates and friends.
UPDATE: School of Seven Bells has released a statement on their Facebook page: