Jim Durkin, guitarist with progressive thrash metal outfit Dark Angel, dies aged 58

Dark Angel guitarist Jim Durkin
(Image credit: Dark Angel / Facebook)

Californian thrashers Dark Angel have announced founding member Jim Durkin has passed away, aged 58.

Durkin’s wife, Annie, confirmed the news with a post on his Facebook page. The statement reads:

“With a broken and heavy heart, I want to share that the love of my life, my best friend and husband, Jimmy, passed away Wednesday morning. He was not alone as I was with him along with a few close friends until the end.

“He will be truly missed and no one can ever replace the love I have for him. May he rest in peace. Ever Thine, Ever Mine, Ever Ours … My Immortal Beloved. I will see you again.”

Dark Angel then updated fans and paid tribute to Durkin on their social media, writing:

“We in the Dark Angel Family are deeply saddened and crushed today with the news of our brother and founder Jimmy Durkin passing away Wednesday morning.

“We would like to thank his fans for their continuous loyalty and support. We will come out with a full statement very soon. We ask that you please respect the family’s privacy while we mourn the loss of this great man.”

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Durkin formed the band in 1981 – alongside vocalist Don Doty, bassist Rob Yahn and drummer Mike Andrade – under the name Shellshock. The group changed their name to Dark Angel in 1983.

Dark Angel released a somewhat underwhelming debut album (We Have Arrived) in 1985. It was a mistake they would not repeat, and the record was quickly followed by 1986’s fan favorite Darkness Descends on iconic thrash label, Combat.

Their second was a vicious maelstrom of pace and punishing aggression that would set a template for many of the era’s burgeoning doom and death metal groups.

Durkin’s final album with the band, 1989’s Leave Scars, saw the group look beyond the short-sharp hits of pure thrash to showcase more progressive elements. In doing so, they expanded the genre’s horizons, creating expansive, eight-minute tracks, instrumentals and smart arrangements, without compromising on thrash’s core tenets.

Durkin left the group in 1989, but returned when the band reformed for the second time in 2013 and played an active role in the band until his death. His passing leaves Dark Angel without any of its founding lineup.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Jim's wife of 34 years, Annie Durkin, to help with funeral costs and medical bills.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.