Steve Albini was an icon to many people, and his work and life was often synonymous with Chicago, the city he called home in his adult life — where he began recording musicians, built his Electrical Audio studio, and established his own bands Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac, all of whom released material on Chicago-based Touch and Go Records. Corey Rusk, owner of the renown indie label, wrote a tribute to his friend of 40 years following Albini’s untimely death at the age of 61 on Tuesday.

In a post shared on the label’s website and on social media over the weekend, Rusk paid homage to the late Albini, “one of his dearest friends,” whom he met in 1984.


“He was supernaturally talented (in far more disciplines than you or I could ever hope to be), kindhearted, generous of spirit, and generous with his time. He had the warmest, most genuine smile and he always greeted you with it,” Rusk wrote in his post.

“He was a member of more bands on Touch and Go than any other musician. He played on more Touch and Go releases than anyone else. He recorded more bands on Touch and Go than any other engineer. He was a cherished friend of mine and a champion of my record label for 40 years.”

When they first met in Detroit In 2024, beyond bonding over music, they also shared a fondness for barbecue and fireworks. After staying up all night on that first day they met, “By morning, I felt like we’d been friends all my life,” Rusk said, adding that subsequent Fourth of Julys their “shared inner pyromaniac tendencies emerged” where they lit fireworks with various bands and friends.

“Our lives intertwined over the following decades. Steve made music, and we released it. We signed new bands, and Steve recorded some of them,” Rusk wrote. “Once Steve’s dream studio, Electrical, was completed, our bands started recording there.”

Rusk was also tapped by Shellac as a soundman for a while, where he traveled the world with the band. “The adventures we shared on the road will always be some of my fondest memories,” he said.

“Shellac finished their new album last year. It’s incomprehensible that Steve will not be here when it is released next week,” he added. Shellac’s To All Trains is set to arrive May 17 via Touch and Go.

“My life, and the lives of everyone close to Steve, will be forever altered from this moment forward. There’s no replacing a big-hearted friend and kindred spirit like Steve,” Rusk wrote to conclude his touching tribute. “I love him and will miss him for the rest of my life.”

Following Albini’s death on Tuesday night, May 7, many of the artists he collaborated with — including  Dave GrohlJimmy PagePJ HarveySuperchunk, his Big Black bandmate Santiago Durango, and more — have shared tributes and remembrances of the legendary musician, producer, and writer.

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