Rick Froberg, the singer, guitarist, and visual artist best known for fronting the influential post-hardcore band Drive Like Jehu, died Friday night (June 30). His friend and longtime collaborator John Reis confirmed the news on Instagram. He was 55.
“Rick passed away suddenly last night from natural causes,” Reis wrote. “His art made life better. The only thing he loved more than art and rock n roll was his friends. He will forever be remembered for his creativity, vision and his ability to bring beauty into this world. I love you, Rick. I will miss you for the rest of my life.”
Born in Los Angeles, for years Froberg lived in Encinitas, California, where he played in several bands in the San Diego area. He formed the band Pitchfork with Reis (who would later found Rocket from the Crypt) as a teen; after Pitchfork disbanded in 1990, the two formed Drive Like Jehu with Mike Kennedy on bass and Mark Trombino on drums, taking their name from a Biblical passage that describes a particularly aggressive chariot driver. They released their self-titled debut in 1991, the same year as Rocket from the Crypt’s Paint as a Fragrance.
The band was active for four years—dissolving shortly after the release of their major-label debut Yank Crime in 1994—but had an outsized influence on hardcore’s evolution into emo. While Reis would continue to perform with Rocket from the Crypt, he formed the band Hot Snakes with Froberg in 1999. The band was active until 2005, though they reunited to perform shows in 2011 and 2014. Their song “This Mystic Decade” was featured on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack in Autumn 2013.
As an illustrator, Froberg created album art, promotional artwork, and merchandise designs for each of his bands, along with Rocket from the Crypt and Reis’ Swami Records label. After moving to Brooklyn, New York in the early aughts, he founded the band Obits in 2006 with former Edsel guitarist Sorab Habibion. Their most recent album Die at the Zoo was released in 2021. Froberg has also played with the Last of the Juanitas and Thingy. Two weeks before his death (June 14) he posted to Instagram that Hot Snakes was working on a new record and that it was “very near done.”