For the second time in a week, we’re devastated to hear of the early passing of a light of the scene. The news was released today that James McLaren, music journalist and steadfast supporter of the Welsh rock and metal scenes, died in a road crash on Monday morning. He was just 34 years old.
If you don’t recognise McLaren’s name, you might recognise that of Sound Nation, the monthly music magazine of the Welsh Music Foundation. McLaren’s tenure on Sound Nation coincided with the rise of Welsh hardcore in the early 00s, with the emergence bands like Lostprophets, Funeral For A Friend, The Blackout and many more coming under his watch. Under McLaren’s sharp-eyed leadership, Sound Nation soon became essential reading not just for Welsh music fans, but for anyone interested in the burgeoning rock and metal scenes in Wales.
McLaren later moved on to the BBC Wales Music site, where he continued to push music of all genres from his adopted country – and not just the bands. James shone a light on the whole Welsh music industry – from venues and producers, to writers and photographers. It’s a testament to his impact on the scene that today has seen tributes pouring in from the likes of Lostprophets, Mötorhead and The Blackout producer Romesh Dodangoda, as well as from fellow journalists from the BBC’s Bethan Elfyn to Simon Price from The Independent, and many more besides. You only have to go and search for his name on Twitter to see the depth of feeling McLaren’s passing has stirred all across the music industry.
We remember James as a passionate force in Welsh music, a man who knew his own mind yet was always willing to support the best up-and-comers on the scene, whatever the prevailing trends. He will be greatly missed, particularly to some of us here at Thrash Hits who had the pleasure of dealing with him on occasion. The thoughts of everyone here at Thrash Hits are with his friends and family.