Gerard Smith, bassist-keyboardist for the Brooklyn-based art-rock group TV on the Radio, died Wednesday after a battle with lung cancer, the band announced on its website. He was 36.
Although he "acted like this accidental musician, the visual artist who got dragged into a friend's band, he was very serious about TV on the Radio," Charles Aaron, music editor of Spin magazine, said in a statement. He "was adamant about not letting people define them as 'black rock,' " Aaron said.
Smith, like the band's other members, had a background in visual arts as well as music. He grew up in Long Island, N.Y., and was performing in New York's subways in 2005 when frontman Tunde Adebimpe recruited him for TV on the Radio. The band is known for an eclectic style that encompasses elements of electronic, alternative rock and funk. "There's not a moment when the band isn't reading or writing or doodling or drawing, or coming up with new ideas," Smith said in a 2006 interview with the Australian newspaper the Age. "They're all extreme bibliophiles, and I think you can hear that."
Smith contributed to the 2006 album "Return to Cookie Mountain" and the 2008 follow-up "Dear Science." He was unable, however, to join the band on tour in March to promote its latest album, "Nine Types of Light." The band has canceled its next few tour dates.