×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stewart Lupton, Singer of Pivotal New York Rock Band Jonathan Fire Eater, Dies at 43

Stewart Lupton, singer of ‘90s rock band Jonathan Fire*Eater, died Sunday at the age of 43, a family member confirmed to Pitchfork. No official cause of death has been announced.

While relatively unknown these days, Jonathan Fire*Eater were arguably the first of the wave of rock bands that burst out of New York in the late 1990s and early ‘00s and helped pave the way for the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, TV on the Radio and others.

Originally from Washington, D.C., the bandmembers moved to New York and released a self-titled EP in 1995; an album and series of singles followed. At the time the New York rock scene — and alternative music in general — were in a recession from the grunge explosion of the early 1990s, and Jonathan Fire*Eater was one of the few signs of life in the late 1990s. A fierce bidding war ensued and the group ended up signing with Dreamworks SKG, the then-new entertainment company formed by Hollywood moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

However, the group’s sound, driven by Lupton’s drawling vocals and Walter Martin’s droning keyboards, didn’t really fit in with any genre at the time, and signing with a new label, even one owned by billionaires, is always a gamble; internal troubles compounded the problems. The group released one album on Dreamworks, “Wolf Songs for Lambs,” in 1997 and split the following year. Three of the bandmembers — Martin, Paul Maroon and Matt Barrick — formed The Walkmen, which became another key band of the New York rock scene of the early ‘00s and released several albums before going on hiatus in 2013.

Lupton moved back to Washington D.C. to study poetry at George Washington University, eventually forming a new band, Child Ballads. In 2009, he released an EP called “A Little Give and Take” as part of a project called the Beatin’s, but his post-Fire*Eater work drew marginal attention.

“We had played some small show in D.C., and I went online to find some reviews, and all these people were like, ‘What the f— happened to that guy?’” Lupton told the New York Post in 2005 as he was attempting a comeback. “And there were rumors … it was like reading about a ghost. One said, ‘I heard he died.’” He pauses. “That s — has an impact on a person. All the speculations about my psychological well-being – I reached a point where I had to assert the fact that I breathed! And that I was, in fact, making music again.”

However, Jonathan Fire*Eater received its proper due in Lizzy Goodman’s sprawling 2017 oral history of the early ‘00s New York scene, “Meet Me in the Bathroom,” which essentially begins with a chapter on the group and its lasting influence.

More Music

  • Will SmithNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Will Smith Joins Jaden to Perform 'Icon' at Coachella

    Parents just do understand the importance of Coachella. Jaden Smith was joined in the Sahara tent Friday night by father Will for a performance of “Icon” — as Instagrammed by the proud papa. The footage of Will Smith rapping was shot by Jaden, who turns his smartphone camera around just long enough to photobomb his [...]

  • Anderson .Paak performs at the Coachella

    Brandy, Jay Rock Help Anderson .Paak Light Up Coachella Weekend Two

    Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals took the Coachella stage at the second weekend of the storied fest as the sun descended, but the musician’s fiery set was more than enough to light up the audience. The performance, which featured pyrotechnics including fireworks and flames alongside the rapper’s slinky stage moves, was relatively heavy on [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale

    Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale Date

    The troubled Woodstock 50 festival has run into more difficulties, as multiple sources told Variety late Friday that the April 22 on-sale date for the event has been postponed. Agents for artists scheduled to perform at the festival — which include Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and Halsey — [...]

  • Sirius Logo

    SiriusXM Unveils $8 Essential Plan for Consumers Without Cars

    SiriusXM wants to cater consumers without cars, or cars without compatible stereos, with a new $8 plan for mobile and in-home listening. Dubbed SiriusXM Essential, the plan offers access to 200+ channels featuring the network’s entire music programming, as well comedy, news and select sports channels. Consumers will be able to test the new plan [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

  • Synthplex

    Synthplex Conference Draws 2,500 Electronic Music Enthusiasts to Burbank

    The inaugural SYNTHPLEX Music Conference, held in Burbank on March 28 through 31, drew more than 2,500 electronic music enthusiasts. The confab included performances, lectures and, most importantly, hands-on time with instrument manufacturers — from marquee names like Roland and Elektron down to smaller, more boutique modular companies. Among the highlights was a standing-room-only keynote [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content