Allen Shellenberger dies at 39; drummer for Orange County band Lit

Allen Shellenberger, second from left, with fellow Lit members A. Jay Popoff, Kevin Baldes and Jeremy Popoff, from left, in 2001 in Fullerton.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Allen Shellenberger, the drummer for the multi-platinum-selling Orange County rock band Lit, has died. He was 39.

Shellenberger died of brain cancer Thursday at his mother’s home in Artesia, said Ken Phillips, the band’s publicist. Shellenberger was diagnosed with malignant glioma in May 2008 and began undergoing treatment; he performed with the band until last fall.

“To know Al was to know laughter,” band members Kevin Baldes, Jeremy Popoff and A. Jay Popoff said in a joint statement. “He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. Words cannot begin to express how much he will be missed.”


A graduate of Kennedy High School in La Palma, Shellenberger and his bandmates began performing together in 1989.

They went through different style changes and names -- Razzle and Stain -- before becoming Lit in the mid-’90s.

Lit recorded one album, “Tripping the Light Fantastic,” in 1997 for an independent label before its breakout major-label album debut in 1999 with “A Place in the Sun.”

The album, released by RCA Records, went platinum, meaning it sold over a million copies. It included the hit single “My Own Worst Enemy,” which held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Modern Rock list for three months and, according to Billboard, was the No. 1 Modern Rock single of 1999.

The other top-10 hit singles off “A Place in the Sun” were “Miserable” and “Ziplock,” and the band has since released two other albums that have spawned top-10 hits.

Shellenberger, who was born Sept. 15, 1969, in Long Beach, brought humor and “a certain calm to the band,” said Baldes, the group’s bass player.


“He was a very peaceful guy,” Baldes said Friday. “He didn’t like arguing, didn’t like confrontation; he just liked to have a good time.”

Even after Shellenberger was no longer able to play with the band, Baldes said, “he’d be in the garage with his drum pads trying to keep it up.

“Allen I don’t think ever really knew that he was as sick as he was. To him, it was like, ‘When I get better. . . .’ And that’s what we promoted to Allen -- when you get better.”

Shellenberger is survived by his daughter, Giovanna Mackey; his mother, Connie James; and his father, Paul Shellenberger.

Funeral services will be for family members only.

A memorial event is pending.