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Famed Record Producer, Poker Player Steve Albini Passes Away

Nirvana, Pixies Producer And Musician Won Two WSOP Bracelets

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Steve Albini Winning His Second BraceletWell-regarded music producer and two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Steve Albini passed away Tuesday night at age 61 after suffering a heart attack.

In a career dating back to the early 1980s, Albini produced albums for bands like Nirvana, Pixies, Bush, PJ Harvey, the Breeders, Chevelle, Joanna Newsom, and more, working out of his Electrical Audio studio, while also performing with his own bands Big Black and Shellac.

Albini was well known for his opposition to traditional record industry contracts, refusing to take royalties from the artists he produced for. He engineered the recording of more than 3,000 records overall, most notably Nirvana’s In Utero.

The Chicago resident also had a passion for poker and accrued more than $370,000 in live tournament winnings in a career stretching back to 2010, while playing in a regular home game for many years.

Diverse Career & Interests

As a producer, Albini worked with a wide range of artists from alternative rock to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to folk acts and singer-songwriters.

“The recording part is the part that matters to me — that I’m making a document that records a piece of our culture, the life’s work of the musicians that are hiring me,” Albini told The Guardian last year. “I take that part very seriously. I want the music to outlive all of us."

Poker was a big part of Albini’s life as well and he played in a home game for years with top mixed game pros such as Brandon Shack-Harris, Eric Rodawig, Jason Gola, Matt Ashton, and Matt Grapenthien.

In 2018, Albini grabbed his first WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 Seven Card Stud event for $105,629. Four years later another bracelet came his way in a $1,500 H.O.R.S.E event for $196,089.

“Everything in my life comes in pieces, in parts,” he said after the second win. “Poker is one part of my life. So when I’m playing poker, I try to commit to it. I try to take it seriously. I try to make sure I devote the attention to it that it deserves as an occupation. But it’s only part of my year. I only play tournaments at the World Series of Poker. I play cash games informally in Chicago. It’s a part of my livelihood, but it’s not my profession.”

Albini is survived by his wife, film director Heather Whinna.

In 2020, Albini was interviewed for an episode of Card Player’s Poker Stories Podcast.