Wes Freed, who was most known for his work on Drive-By Truckers, passed away at the age of 58. Freed, an outsider artist, was diagnosed with colon cancer in January. Earlier this year, Drive-By Truckers reported that Freed was undergoing cancer treatment.
In response to the news, a GoFundMe page was established to aid with his medical expenses. Outsider art is art created by self-taught artists who have had little to no contact with the traditions of the art world.
Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers published the following on social media:
“I recognize that the news has spread. I will add content as soon as I am able. I’m just just too depressed right now to speak.”
The musician from Virginia passed away on September 4, nine months after his cancer diagnosis.
Wes Freed was also a musician
Freed was born in the Shenandoah Valley and studied painting at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
“I suppose I always wanted to be an artist in New York when I was in high school.” Then I came to Richmond and thought, “I don’t know, Richmond looks big enough.” Then I went to New York and everyone agreed, “Yes, Richmond is surely big enough.”
In an interview conducted in 2011, Freed stated that through his work he seeks to convince himself that a place from his childhood remains somewhere, perhaps in a metaphysical sense.
The musician was also an artist from Richmond, Virginia. Wes Freed has performed with several local bands, such as the Shiners, Dirt Ball, and Mud Helmet.
The Art of Wes Freed: Paintings, Posters, Pin-Ups, and Possums is a 2019 coffee-table book showcasing a wide range of his work. The book contains a variety of his artwork, as well as album, covers for Drive-By Truckers and other bands, including Cracker and artist Lauren Hoffman.
In a 2010 interview, when asked if he preferred sketching or music, Freed responded:
I would say that I started painting before I started performing music, but I cannot separate the two in my mind.
Freed first met the Drive-By Truckers in 1997
Freed told No Depression in 2019 that he met Drive-By Truckers by chance at the annual roots music festival Bubbapalooza in 1997. They became friends with Freed and his then-wife, Jyl Freed, and shared a room with them.
Soon after, he was asked to contribute to the double Album Southern Rock Opera. Lilia Hood, the sister of Patterson Hood, helped Wes Freed to finish the record packaging.
Hood said in an interview:
As she vowed early on to be loyal to his work and never alter it, she has earned his trust and we have been working with him.
Initially, he collaborated with Drive-By Truckers on the cover of their third studio album, Southern Rock Opera, released in 2001. The band’s 2001 double LP featured a red-eyed owl flying over a field of flames.
Also, he designed band posters, T-shirts, backdrops, and other products. Freed also designed the band’s mascot, the Cooley Bird, which became visually recognizable with the band and guitarist Mike Cooley.
Freed produced seven additional albums for Drive-By Truckers. In addition, he contributed to the group on their 2020 album The New OK and their June release Welcome To Club XIII.
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