Known both as a solo artist and as a member of the rock bands The Reatards and Lost Sounds. He released two successful LPs titled Blood Visions and Watch Me Fall before his death by cocaine overdose in 2010.
His recording career began at the age of fifteen after he sent a homemade demo tape to Goner Records. Not long after he became the founding member of The Reatards.
A feature-length documentary about him was made following his death titled Better Than Something: Jay Reatard.
He moved to Memphis, Tennessee at the age of eight after his father became unemployed in their hometown.
In 2009, he contributed to a tribute album for Chris Knox, the proceeds of which went to helping the singer's recovery after he suffered a stroke.