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updated: 5/17/2012 11:55 AM

Lucky Boys Confusion guitarist dies

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  • Joe Sell, guitarist for Lucky Boys Confusion, died Tuesday night. He was 33.

      Joe Sell, guitarist for Lucky Boys Confusion, died Tuesday night. He was 33.
    Courtesy of Lucky Boys Confusion

  • Lucky Boys Confusion lost one of its guitarists, Joe Sell, 33, of Naperville when Sell died Tuesday night.

      Lucky Boys Confusion lost one of its guitarists, Joe Sell, 33, of Naperville when Sell died Tuesday night.
    Courtesy of Lucky Boys Confusion

  • Joe Sell, far left, a graduate of Naperville Central High School and guitarist for Lucky Boys Confusion, died Tuesday night.

      Joe Sell, far left, a graduate of Naperville Central High School and guitarist for Lucky Boys Confusion, died Tuesday night.
    Photo courtesy Lucky Boys Confusion

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Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the location of the wake and funeral. The wake and funeral will be at Grace Pointe Church, 1320 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.

In a way, Lucky Boys Confusion guitarist Joe Sell was a simple man.

He loved reading and relaxing with friends and had an ear for musical tone so strong it was beyond perfect pitch, the band's lead singer, Stubhy Pandav, said.

Sell, of Naperville, died Tuesday night. He was 33.

"He was brilliant. He was extremely well-read," Pandav said about his longtime friend and bandmate. "He found happiness in the smallest things, from gummy candy to Harry Potter books. He was a simple man when it came down to that."

One of his four sisters, 27-year-old Jackie Sell, on Wednesday described her brother as "a total nerd in disguise of this rock star."

"He was so down-to-earth, you could talk to him about anything," she said. "He had a thing for the underdog, so he clicked with people who were outcasts."

Sell had been in the hospital with pancreas problems about two or three months ago, but Pandav did not immediately know what caused the guitarist's death. Jackie Sell said her brother struggled with addictions over time, but "was trying his hardest" to overcome them.

"We knew that he was sick, but we also saw how much he was getting better," Pandav said.

As fans of Lucky Boys Confusion posted "rest in peace" messages online, Pandav said Sell should be remembered for his musical talents.

He was one of five members of the punk band that got its start in 1997 playing small gigs near its members' hometowns of Naperville and Downers Grove before gaining a record deal and national recognition.

Largely self-taught, Sell built on piano skills he practiced growing up and learned to play guitar by attempting songs by favorite bands Guns N' Roses and Led Zeppelin. At family gatherings, he would lead singalongs and play any song requested on command, his sister said.

The band often would challenge his ability for recognizing musical notes by striking any key on a piano and asking him to tell its pitch and exactly how far it was from middle C -- without looking. He always could do so, and quickly, Pandav said.

"I just want people to remember him for his amazing gift and ability," he said. "I want people to know how fast he was at coming up with parts. I'd play him a song, and he would already have his whole part written before I was done with the song."

While Pandav and Adam Krier of Naperville wrote most of Lucky Boys Confusion's songs, which include "Hey Driver," "Dumb Pop Song," and "One to the Right," Sell's creative guitar riffs added an extra layer that made the band's sound unique.

"Joe would add the swagger to the music," Pandav said. "Without that attitude, without that swagger, the songs wouldn't be Lucky Boys songs."

Sell graduated from Naperville Central High School and was attending College of DuPage when the band began its rise to punk fame. These days, Pandav said, Sell had just gotten a new place in Naperville and was awaiting a promotion at a new job.

"A beer, a book and good friends" always made Sell a happy guy, and Pandav said he seemed happy to be recovering from his illness during the band's most recent show April 28 in Urbana. Sell had been in rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous in the past, but Pandav said he did not know if drugs or alcohol contributed to his death.

Sell's family also did not know Wednesday what caused his death, only knowing he was found dead in Chicago on Tuesday night, his sister said.

A wake will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Grace Pointe Church, 1320 E. Chicago Ave. in Naperville with a funeral service at 10 a.m. Saturday at the same location.

"If you knew him and he meant something to you," Sell's sister said, "then come out and celebrate him."

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