Sacred Reich guitarist and founding member Jason Rainey dead at 53

(Image credit: YouTube/WackenTV)

Jason Rainey, who founded and played electric guitar for Phoenix, Arizona thrash metal act Sacred Reich, died of a heart attack on March 16. Rainey was 53. 

The news was confirmed by his former band, who said in a statement posted to the official Sacred Reich Facebook page:

“It is with deep sadness and broken hearts that we must announce that our friend, guitarist and founding member of Sacred Reich, Jason Rainey has passed away.

“Jason started the band after only playing guitar for six months. With sheer determination and will, he lead us through the early years of the band. He worked tirelessly. Sacred Reich was his life.

Posted by sacredreichofficial on 

“In recent years he faced some serious medical issues. He ultimately succumbed to a heart attack on Monday, March 16. He was 53 years old. Jason, we wish you peace and love.”

Rainey appeared with Sacred Reich on the band’s first four full-length albums, beginning with the 1987 Metal Blade debut, Ignorance, through 1996’s Heal. After splitting in 2000, the band reunited six years later and resumed touring.

Rainey stayed with Sacred Reich until 2019, when he departed for reported “health reasons” and was replaced by Joey Radziwill.

Radziwill appeared on the band’s Awakening album, released that same year.

Regarding Rainey’s departure from the group, sing Phil Rind explained in an interview with Sonic Perspectives:

“Unfortunately, Jason just physically – there's some stuff going on with him,” Rind said.

“He just wasn't going to be able to do it. We tried everything we could. We all tried. It just became apparent he wasn't going to be able to be up to it and be able to come through for us. It's really sad. It's a real heartbreaking thing. 

"Jason started the band. He and I did so much together, and I'm probably closer to him than anybody else on the whole planet. When it became apparent, I cried for two days straight.

“It was heartbreaking.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.