Andrew Weatherall, British producer behind Screamadelica, dies aged 56

<span>Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Andrew Weatherall, the British musician, DJ and record producer known for helming Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, has died aged 56.

His management wrote in a statement: “We are deeply sorry to announce that Andrew Weatherall, the noted DJ and musician passed away in the early hours of this morning, Monday 17th February 2020, at Whipps Cross Hospital, London. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism. He was being treated in hospital but unfortunately the blood clot reached his heart. His death was swift and peaceful.”

The author Irvine Welsh was among those paying tribute, writing: “Genius is an overworked term but I’m struggling to think of anything else that defines him.”

Following a young adulthood in the post-punk scene, Weatherall became a key figure in countercultural – and occasionally mainstream – British music after becoming one of the key DJs in the acid house movement of the late 1980s. He was recruited by Danny Rampling to play at London nightclub Shoom, and soon founded the record label Boy’s Own Recordings and the production outfit Bocca Juniors.

Further musical projects included the group the Sabres of Paradise, which splintered into the duo Two Lone Swordsmen with Keith Tenniswood, though perhaps his most famous musical work was with Primal Scream on their breakthrough 1991 album Screamadelica. By taking the band’s anthemic songwriting and adding samples, loops and the euphoric energy of Ibiza, Weatherall’s production made the album one of the most celebrated of the 1990s.

Speaking to the NME in 2011, he said of Screamadelica: “Looking back, my arrogance makes me wince, but I would never have had the confidence to do it if I didn’t have that kind of attitude. In a few months I’d gone from basically bumming around to all of a sudden being part of a proper scene. I was at the centre of the cyclone and loving it.”

He remixed artists including Björk, My Bloody Valentine and Saint Etienne; with Terry Farley, he remixed New Order’s 1990 World Cup song World in Motion. He was an early champion of the Chemical Brothers and their debut track Song to the Siren, playing it in his DJ sets and remixing it. Writing on Twitter, the duo’s Ed Simons said Weatherall was “a true inspiration and hero. A lovely funny man. Incredible DJ”.

Weatherall consolidated the trip-hop sound of the mid-1990s with his production on Beth Orton’s 1996 breakthrough album Trailer Park. Orton described him in an Instagram tribute as “a beautiful soul and a genius,” calling his death “a profound loss”.

He continued to work as a DJ and producer until his death, with his A Love from Outer Space club night series and production projects like the Asphodells. He reunited with Primal Scream in 2002 to co-produce their album Evil Heat.

He spoke of the eternal appeal of DJing in a 2016 Guardian interview: “It’s quite vampyric, DJing. You’re never going to have that feeling of hearing that record for the first time again, but if you look into the eyes of someone who’s hearing it for the first time, it’s a nice vicarious feeling. But it’s not selfish. I think I’ve never lost that thing I had when I was 12 years old and inviting my mates round to my house. They’d all be copping off with girls and I’m going, ‘No, check out this B-side.’”

Related: Andrew Weatherall: ‘Anyone can make music. What a double-edged sword’

Musicians paying tribute included the Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, who wrote on Twitter: “Shocked and saddened to hear that cosmic traveller Andrew Weatherall has left the building. Always a pleasure to meet up with him and share good times.” Dave Haslam, another key figure in the acid house era, said that Weatherall was “one of the greatest, sweetest, funniest guys I’ve ever met”.