By Zach Collier
Drummer, vocalist, and songwriter Mimi Parker passed away on November 5, 2022 after a battle with ovarian cancer. An accomplished and widely celebrated musician, she founded the band Low in 1993 alongside her husband and bandmate, Alan Sparhawk. She was 55 years old.
Hailing from Minnesota, the band’s minimalistic sound was a startling juxtaposition to the grunge music of the era. Their melodies were intricate and their delivery was soft. While the band’s mainstream success was limited, they had a loyal and devoted following that has grown organically over the last three decades. The band’s debut album, I Could Live in Hope, was included in Pitchfork’s 1999 list of the best albums of the 1990s. Low was slated to open for Death Cab For Cutie this year before cancelling their tour dates in September.
The band shared the news on social media on Sunday with a brief message. “Friends, it’s hard to put the universe into language and into a short message, but She passed away last night, surrounded by family and love, including yours,” it read. “Keep her name close and sacred. Share this moment with someone who needs you. Love is indeed the most important thing.”
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Low has had a unique relationship with the state of Utah. They performed here often, and played a special version of their song “Hand So Small” at Velour Live Music Gallery for BYUtv’s Audio Files.
In a tribute, Velour’s Corey Fox said, “I have had the privilege to host the majority of Low’s Utah performances at various venues since 1998 and was very much looking forward to hosting them again at Velour in March. I have a really hard time with death and loss, and especially when that person is creative. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that although they might not be able to continue to create art in this world, the art that they have already created makes them immortal… Our heart goes out to Alan and family.”
Dr. Steven Ricks, BYU music professor and former trombone player for Stretch Armstrong said, “I sort of came to Low late, starting with The Great Destroyer. That album was in heavy rotation for a while. Condolences, peace, and love to the family, friends, and fans.”
Utah musician and longtime fan Adam Alba said that Low changed him for the better in more ways than one.
“I became aware of Low in the early 2000s with the release of Things We Lost in the Fire,” said Alba. “I thought the songs were beautiful and lovely, but I didn’t do a deep dive into their music until Ones and Sixes in 2015. By that time, whether because of older age or fatherhood, their music spoke more deeply to me, and I started learning more about Alan and Mimi. I became especially fond of their journey through parenthood, including the fact that they would take their little babies on tour with them. I am not a mother, but I try to be a good father, and I know how hard it can be to try to work and parent at the same time. I have always been so impressed at Mimi’s courage to continue to pursue her creative career while mothering. That courage has been such an inspiration to me, and it has deeply influenced my life and my meager creative efforts.”
The band’s 13 full-length studio albums are beloved by fans and critics alike. Their latest LP, Hey What, dropped on Sub Pop in 2021. You can listen to their song “Days Like These” from that record below. Parker is survived by her husband and two children, Hollis and Cyrus. She will be missed forever.