Most remember River Phoenix as an actor. The one-time teen heartthrob appeared in 14 films during his short life, including roles in Stand By Me, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and My Own Private Idaho. But the Academy Award nominee’s true passion was always music.
Before Phoenix ever appeared on television or the big screen, the pre-teen was busking on street corners with his siblings to help make ends meet for his struggling family. And it was there, on a street corner in L.A., that a talent scout discovered him and launched his acting career.
Yet, despite his eventual meteoric rise in the cinematic world, the young performer was adamant about simultaneously pursuing a career in music.
After securing a development deal with Island Records Founder Chris Blackwell, Phoenix formed the band Aleka’s Attic in the late ’80s, which also featured his sister, Rain.
The quintet called it quits a year before Phoenix’s death on Halloween night in 1993 and the album they recorded together was never released. In 1997, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe bought the rights to all of the band’s material from Island Records, but most songs from the project have never seen the light of day.
That is, until now.
“It’s so hard to believe he’s been gone for 25 years,” Rain said recently in a statement. “It really made me think about the construct of time, how we create it to make sense of things, and how especially with grief, it never really snaps to a grid. That said, a quarter of a century has a definite weight to it and I felt compelled and guided to share River the musician with the world.”
Fittingly, on Valentine’s Day, Kro Records and Rain’s own LaunchLeft imprint will co-release the double A-side single and sibling love letter, Time Gone.
Side A will feature Rain Phoenix’s Time is a Killer featuring Michael Stipe, while Side AA will feature two unreleased Aleka’s Attic tracks, Where I’d Gone and Scales & Fishnails.
While it remains to be seen if more music from the iconic actor’s band will be released in the future, these two “new” songs only reinforce the multi-faceted talent of Phoenix who left us far too soon.