Peter Gutteridge, a key figure in New Zealand's shockingly strong rock scene from the '80s and '90s, passed away Monday morning in Auckland, NZ. He was in his early 50s. Gutteridge had recently returned to his home country after his first US tour.

A member of crucial kiwi bands such as the Clean, the Great Unwashed, the Chills, and Snapper, as well as a riveting solo artist, Gutteridge had a special talent for conveying dark sentiments within exhilarating sonic contexts. He wrote what I think is the Clean's best song, the spiraling tower of melancholy "Point That Thing Somewhere Else," which Seattle band Kinski have covered. As leader of Snapper, Gutteridge forged a distinctive fusion of dark, Jesus & Mary Chain-like surf rock and severe, Suicide-like rhythms. Gutteridge's excellent 1989 solo LP Pure was reissued last year by 540 Records.

Flying Nun Records, which released some of Gutteridge's music, posted this statement about him on its website.

All of us, and so many people around the world, have been touched and affected by his music, whether it be the swirling fuzz of the guitar or haunting piano melodies, Peter was a true hero of New Zealand music, and will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this very sad time. Thank you Peter for all the music, may you rest in peace.