Brian 'Brizz' Gillis of LFO Becomes 3rd Member of '90s Boy Band to Die
Brian "Brizz" Gillis, who had been a co-founding member of the '90s boy band LFO, died Wednesday unexpectedly. He was in his late forties.
Friends of Gillis announced his death on social media. A heart attack or similar event is suspected.
Gillis, along with Brad Fischetti and Rich Cronin, formed the Lyte Funkie Ones (referencing their skin color) in Massachusetts in 1995. At the time, they were sort of a pop-rap group, and released the non-album singles "(Sex U Up) The Way You Like It" and "Step by Step," a New Kids on the Block cover, both in 1997.
The group, which saw some success in Germany, relocated to Orlando, Florida, and were signed by boy band impresario Lou Pearlman for his Trans Con label, becoming a part of the thriving pop scene in the city.
Though a remake of Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" (retitled "Can't Have You") — with Gillis' lead vocal — pushed LFO closer to the American Top 40 in 1998, Gillis, the group's rapper, left to pursue a solo career, paving the way for replacement Devin Lima.
LFO went on to have a platinum-selling self-titled debut album in 1999, an album that retained Gillis' vocal contributions. It spawned the radio-friendly, lyrically whimsical "Summer Girls" (often referred to as "The Abercrombie & Fitch" song), as well as the Top 10 hit "Girl on TV."
The band released one more album, "Life Is Good," in 2002, the same year they split.
Gillis toured colleges and stayed in the music industry, including doing radio promo for BMG and working with artists.
The rest of LFO reunited briefly in 2009, but broke up within a year.
Cronin, 36, died of a stroke in 2010 after battling leukemia. Pearlman, convicted of a Ponzi scheme, died in prison at 62 in 2016. Lima died of adrenal cancer at 41 in 2018.
Fischetti wrote of Gillis on the band's official Facebook page, "Every story is made up of chapters. Some develop naturally. Some you have to cut up in your mind. The first two chapters of the LFO story lost a main character yesterday. Brian ‘Brizz’ Gillis passed away. I don’t have details and it wouldn’t be my place to share them if I did. I am really struggling to process this tragic loss. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it; the LFO Story is a tragedy. If you know what I’ve been doing, you know I’m trying to bring light into the darkness. Trying find redemption in pain and suffering. Trying to honor the legacy."
He went on, "Today I honor my former bandmate and friend, Brizz. If you watched the LFO Story livestream or have seen the band and me play it live, you know what Brian meant to LFO. If it wasn’t for his hard work and dedication in the early days of LFO, the first two chapters, the LFO you came to know and (hopefully) love would not exist."
"My relationship with Brian was complex," Fischetti admitted. "It contained moments of great tribulation but also of great joy. I learned a lot from him about the business of music and how to put together and rock a show. And it’s those positive aspects of our relationship that I will lean on now and forever."
"I’ve prayed for Brian every day for many years. And I will continue to pray for him, for his beloved father, for his friends, his family, and those who loved him. Special prayers for Pistol Pete and Terry Edwards; two men who hold a special place in my heart and undoubtedly held a special place in Brian’s heart."
He closed with, "I know that soon or maybe already, Brizz will be greeted by Rich and Devin. And I hope that together, they will make some sweet sounds. I would really like that. Rest east bro. Rest easy."
Gillis is survived by his partner, Janelle Yosca, and by his father.