Monty Lee Wilkes, the legendary sound engineer whose career included work with Minnesota legends Prince and The Replacements as well as Nirvana and the Beastie Boys, has died at the age of 54.
His career in music spanned more than 30 years, with the Star Tribune's Chris Riemenschneider saying he helped transform the sound of First Avenue as it made the transition from disco to rock in the 80s, before joining The Replacements on tour in 1985.
The Barnum, Minnesota, native passed away on Friday after being diagnosed with terminal cancer last fall. He died at his parents' home in Kettle River after being moved there two weeks ago to receive hospice care, the newspaper said.
Among those paying tribute online has been former First Avenue manager Steve McClellan, who said on Facebook: "Such a youngster - too talented and too young..... I know they will have Banana and Strawberry Sports Shakes where he has gone........"
CityPages reports that after working in Minnesota, Wilkes was a manager for the 1991 "Nevermind" tour for Nirvana, as well as organizing gigs for Prince, the Beastie Boys, Britney Spears, Alice in Chains, Babes in Toyland, Joe Strummer, the B-52s, Soul Asylum and many more.
Doing the rounds on Facebook is a story from the Nevermind tour, in which the band smashed a TV in their hotel room and told Wilkes they did it because "they couldn't get the window open to throw it out."
Wilkes is famously said to have replied: "A real punk-rock band would've thrown it through the window."
According to FOH Online, Wilkes was first inspired to work in music after his father took him to a Grateful Dead concert as a child, during which "he became hooked on the sound reinforcement process."
Despite his extensive touring career, the website says "Wilkes retained his hometown roots and love for the Twin Cities' music scene."
"While not on the road, he designed sonic upgrades for First Avenue, taught at St. Paul's McNally College of Music and worked in the studio producing local artists including The Magnolias," it added.