American Princes bassist Luke Hunsicker, 29, died of brain cancer on August 25.
We here at MAGNET were especially saddened to hear the news. It would be enough to lose a musician who contributed to two of our favorite albums of the past few years: 2006’s Less And Less and 2008’s Other People, the latter of which we (correctly) named the best album of that year. But it is more tragic because I cannot recall interviewing a band with a more natural sense of friendship and joy than American Princes. It’s as if they arrived from Little Rock, Ark., as an idealized version of a touring rock band, with no expectations of the road other than van trouble, convenience-store food, stale beer and 45 minutes each night of playing music with friends in front of strangers. Other bands would not have envied American Princes that night in Philadelphia in 2006; they played for only 30 or 40 people. But I did. They were having the best time of their 20s, maybe their lives, and, well, Dylan Thomas described it best long ago: “Time let me hail and climb/Golden in the heydays of his eyes.”
A letter on Hunsicker’s passing from the band after the jump.
Dear Friends of American Princes,
It is with sadness and regret that we write you to tell you of the passing of our dear friend and bassist Luke Hunsicker.
All of you who were lucky enough to meet and to get to know Luke know what an incredible person he was. He charmed each and every one of us with his unfailing kindness, his humor, his openness, and his calm and gentle manner, which he maintained even in the most difficult situations. Those of you who have spent time on the road know just what an important quality that is.
And, as you all know, Luke was a unique and brilliant musician. His playing-style was like no one else’s. The melodies and bass lines he wrote contributed as much or more to American Princes’ sound than anything else. We know that without Luke, we never would have been able to accomplish the things that we did.
Since Luke’s diagnosis of brain cancer last year, we have had the unfortunate experience of having to play some shows without him. We’ve always known, of course, that Luke was irreplaceable as a member of our band, but it was also clear that he is indispensable. Life on the road without Luke was not the same. We missed his humor, his great attitude, and his ability to sleep in the van, no matter how loud we played the stereo.
His knack for befriending anyone he met helped us make so many good friends on the road. We will never forget the time that Luke, dressed in a too-small Santa Claus outfit in order to dance onstage with The Flaming Lips, chatted up a somewhat-freaked-out-looking Alex Chilton backstage at Centennial Park in Atlanta. We can safely say that Luke was an enemy to no one, and a friend to everyone.
We want everyone to know that while Luke went through his cancer treatment he maintained an incredible attitude. He and his wonderful wife Sydney were always open to friends and visitors and kept a positive outlook through times that could have seemed very bleak to ordinary human beings. Luke expressed laughter and cheer, even up until the last week of his life. And, the two of them were always open with everyone about Luke’s cancer and the treatments he was going through. In short, Luke and Sydney showed no fear. We feel as though they demonstrated to us how to face our struggles with levity and bravery. Their positive attitude was infectious, and it left us all knowing that everything is going to be okay.
Yesterday we lost Luke, but we know that he left us all with our wonderful memories of the great person that he was. He was one of the best human beings we have ever known. We are better people for having known him. And, we will have that with us as long as we live.