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Folk-rocker Vic Chesnutt dies at 45

Vic Chesnutt, the folk-rocker whose sometimes dark reflections on life were influenced in part by a car wreck that left him paralyzed, has died. He was 45.

Family friend Christina Stuckey, who answered the phone at Chesnutt’s home, confirmed the death to The Associated Press. Chesnutt’s record label, Constellation Records, said in a statement on its Web site that Chesnutt died on Christmas Day, Friday.

“Vic transformed our sense of what true character, grace and determination are all about,” according to the statement.

Chesnutt worked with such notable artists as R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe and guitarist Guy Picciotto of the punk band Fugazi. In a biography posted on his MySpace page, Chesnutt said that he came to “a whole new understanding of music” after the 1983 car crash that rendered him immobile.

He recently had toured with his Vic Chesnutt band, a “supergroup” of sorts featuring members of Canadian bands Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra, as well as Picciotto. Just two months ago Chesnutt said that the group was “a truly incredible braintrust.”

“We’ve got some of the smartest and most sensitive punk rockers out there,” he told the Athens Banner-Herald for a story in October.

The rocker released two albums in the past year, including “At the Cut.”

However, Chesnutt had recently struggled with a lawsuit filed by a Georgia hospital after he racked up surgery bills totaling some $70,000, the Athens newspaper reported. He said he could not afford more than hospitalization insurance and could not keep up with the payments.

The problems baffled his Canadian bandmates, Chesnutt said.

“There’s nowhere else in the world that I’d be facing the situation I’m in right now. They cannot understand what kind of society would inflict that on their population,” he said. “It’s terrifying.”

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