Letha Rodman Melchior, Experimental Musician, Has Died

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 09.25.14 in News

Letha Rodman Melchior, an experimental multi-instrumentalist who released last year’s Handbook for Mortals via Siltbreeze while undergoing treatment for cancer, has died. She was 55.

Her husband, garage-punk veteran Dan Melchior, shared the news on the blog Letha had been keeping since early 2011, not long after her diagnosis. “I am heartbroken to report that my dear, sweet wife Letha Rodman Melchior passed away today,” Dan wrote yesterday. “She fought right up until the end. She was the bravest, most alive person I ever knew. I love you Leth.”

Letha Rodman Melchior, who used the alias Tretetam, released a handful of CD-Rs and cassettes on labels including Ikuisuus and Robert & Leopold starting in 2008. Handbook for Mortals was billed as her first vinyl release; writing for Pitchfork last December, critic Marc Masters said the album’s “unique accomplishment” lies in how, “rather than trying to control the chaos of the world, she makes it her music, and in the process takes the listener along to ‘someplace else.’”

Melchior also played bass in her husband’s band, Dan Melchior Und Das Menace, which recently released the new album Hunger. As Letha Rodman, she played in the indie-rock band Ruby Falls, which released the album Heroines in 1996 via Silver Girl Records and For the New Crop in 2000 via Heartcore Records. Along with being a solo artist, Dan Melchior has played with Billy Childish and Holly Golightly, and his band Dan Melchior’s Broke Revue opened for the likes of the White Stripes before calling it quits in 2004.

Letha Rodman Melchior wrote movingly and eloquently on her blog about her experience with cancer. In her last post, dated July 30, she says: “Hello everyone – - I’m sorry it’s been so long since I posted, but I’ve had a lot of daunting stuff going on. I will get back to it soon!
In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that the wonderful China Bialos has opened a GiveForward page on behalf of Dan and I – - -thanks so much China! https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/qny4/help-letha-rodman-melchior-conquer-cancer- Love, Letha”

William Tyler and the members of Yo La Tengo released a recording from a recent show in North Carolina to help pay for Melchior’s treatment. Versus, Thalia Zedek Band, Antietam, Rogers Sisters and Cynthia Nelson were set to play a benefit later this year at Rough Trade New York.