Rob Vitale, the lead singer of New York hardcore band Black Train Jack has tragically died from COVID-19 complications. His death was confirmed by a number of figures in the NYHC scene, including Sick of It All.
“Our hearts are heavy tonight,” wrote Sick of It All on Facebook on Sunday night. “We lost our friend to COVID. Thinking of all the shows, the tours all the good times and laughs we shared. Rest In Peace Rob.”
Sick of It All drummer Armand Majidi added, “Tonight we honor a truly good man who departed this world far too early. Rest easy Rob. It was a pleasure touring with you and sharing many fond moments. @bobeatsbtj you were loved by many and will be missed dearly.”
Black Train Jack got their start in the early ’90s and landed a record deal with Roadrunner Records. They released two albums — 1993’s No Reward and 1994’s You’re Not Alone — before breaking up in 1995. The band would reunite throughout the years for one-off shows and festivals.
Following Black Train Jack’s initial breakup, Vitale went on to form the band Nine Lives, who released three albums and an EP in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Nine Lives had once again been an active band in recent years, and confirmed Vitale’s passing via Facebook: “Yesterday was a tough day. We lost our brother, Rob. His spirit and memory, and of course, his incredible voice, will live with us all forever. Please share a photo or a memory, always keep him in your thoughts. We love you, Rob Vitale, may you be at peace.”
Danny Diablo, singer of such NYHC bands as Crown of Thornz and Skarhead, tweeted, “I am f**king so sad right now. just found out my boy Rob Vitale from Black Train Jack has passed away today from COVID!!! He had a voice of an angel & a heart of gold!!!”
In an interview last year with Germany’s Ox Fanzine, Vitale talked about Black Train Jack’s legacy, saying, “I’m glad that after all these years our music still has a place with you and many others. We did our best to get noticed and to go musically unusual paths. NYHC roots combined with a large dose of punk rock, blues and even a touch of classic rock. These were our individual influences. Back then we were the only New York band that stood for a mix of hardcore and melody.”
Our condolences go out to Rob Vitale’s family, friends, and bandmates during this difficult time. Watch Vitale performing with Black Train Jack in 1993 and during a reunion show in 2013, as well as the band’s music video for “Handouts”, below.
I AM FUCKING SO SAD RIGHT NOW. JUST FOUND OUT MY BOY ROB VITALE FROM BLACK TRAIN JACK HAS PASSED AWAY TODAY FROM COVID!!! HE HAD A VOICE OF AN ANGEL & A HEART OF GOLD!!! YOU WILL BE MISSED BOBEATS!!!
— DANNY DIABLO (@DannyDiablo) March 29, 2021