Zach Sobiech

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Zach Sobiech
Zach Sobiech
Background information
Birth nameZachary David Sobiech
Born(1995-05-03)May 3, 1995
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedMay 20, 2013(2013-05-20) (aged 18)
Lakeland, Minnesota, U.S.
GenresFolk rock, indie folk, indie pop
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, musician
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active2009–2013

Zachary David Sobiech (May 3, 1995 – May 20, 2013) was an American singer-songwriter and musician from Lakeland, Minnesota, who was a member of the band A Firm Handshake. The single "Clouds" gained extensive media attention on YouTube, prior to Sobiech's death from cancer in May 2013.[1][2] It charted on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually becoming a hit also in the UK, Canada and France. His philosophy was that in his last days of life due to his cancer, he needed to make people happy.

Life and career[edit]

In his early years, Sobiech attended St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater, Minnesota (Class of 2009). He later attended Stillwater Area High School (Class of 2013). At age 14, Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that mostly affects children.[3] CBS reported that during his treatment he underwent 10 surgeries and 24 rounds of chemotherapy.[4] He started writing music after his diagnosis.[5]

In May 2012 his doctors informed him that he had up to a year to live.[6] Sobiech recorded the song "Clouds" about his battle with cancer,[7] and released it as a YouTube video in December 2012. It went viral, surpassing 3 million views at the time of his death. It currently has more than 21.6 million views as of September 2022.[8][9]

A Firm Handshake[edit]

A Firm Handshake
Years active2012–2015
LabelsRock the Cause
MembersSammy Brown
Reed Redmond
Past membersZach Sobiech

Prior to Sobiech's death, he formed the band A Firm Handshake with friends Samantha "Sammy" Brown and Reed Redmond.[1] A Firm Handshake's first EP and only release, Fix Me Up, was released digitally in early 2013,[10] charting in the US, the UK and Canada. The debut single by A Firm Handshake is "How to Go to Confession" featuring Sammy Brown.


Sobiech died on May 20, 2013, of complications from osteosarcoma, at his home in Lakeland, an eastern suburb of Saint Paul, Minnesota, seventeen days after his 18th birthday.[8][11] His funeral was held at the Catholic Church of St. Michael and he was later buried in St. Michael's Cemetery.[12]


Rainn Wilson's YouTube channel SoulPancake released a documentary about Sobiech, directed by director-actor Justin Baldoni, a part of its online reality series, My Last Days.[5][13] The 22-minute episode of My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech has been watched more than 15.6 million times on the main SoulPancake YouTube channel.[14] A further episode entitled My Last Days: Zach Sobiech, One Year Later was created to follow up with Sobiech's family and friends after his death.[15]

Artists have released many tributes, including many cover versions of "Clouds"—with a prominent version of "Clouds" released on SoulPancake,[16] featuring director Rainn Wilson himself, along with Bryan Cranston, Ashley Tisdale, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles,[2] Colbie Caillat, Phillip Phillips, Passenger, The Lumineers and many others. The music video on SoulPancake presented in collaboration with Wayfarer Entertainment was directed by Justin Baldoni, produced by Baldoni and Ahmed Kolacek, with Fouad Elgohari as associate producer and Nick Pezzillo as editor.[17] The video has been viewed over 5 million times on the SoulPancake YouTube channel.[18]

On December 5, 2013, a choir of an estimated 5,000 sang Sobiech's hit song "Clouds" at the Mall of America. The event was organized by the KS95 Kids Radiothon in collaboration with the Children's Cancer Research Fund and Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.[19]


Sobiech's family established the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund at Children's Cancer Research Fund. In September 2015, the fund reached $2 million.[20]

Zach's mother Laura Sobiech wrote a memoir about his life, Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way.[21]

In early 2016, it was announced that Warner Bros. was developing a film based on Laura Sobiech's book.[22] The film Clouds was released on Disney+ on October 16, 2020.[23] Production started on October 19, 2019,[24] in Montreal, and was directed by Justin Baldoni. The film stars Fin Argus as Zach and Sabrina Carpenter as Sammy.


Extended plays[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions





Fix Me Up
(Among A Firm Handshake)
20 9 27 4 6 22 121 24


Single Year Peak positions Album



"Clouds" 2013 26 3 29 14 26 73 50 8 Fix Me Up


  1. ^ a b "Zach Sobiech: Finding peace through music".
  2. ^ a b "Zach Sobiech's 'Clouds' Headed For Hot 100 Debut". Billboard. May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  3. ^ Boehm, Kristin (May 20, 2013). "Zach Sobiech Dies at 18, Teen with Cancer Who Sang Viral Hit "Clouds"". People. Archived from the original on June 8, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  4. ^ "MN Teen Whose Song Touched The World Dies Of Cancer". CBS. May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Viral Video Sensation Zach Sobiech Dies". Fox2Now. May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  6. ^ Stump, Scott (May 20, 2013). "Teen behind viral hit 'Clouds' dies of bone cancer weeks after celeb-filled tribute video". Today. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  7. ^ "Zach Sobiech, Terminally Ill Singer Who Channeled His Story Into 'Clouds', Dies at 18". May 21, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Enayati, Amanda (May 20, 2013). "Teen featured in viral video dies". CNN. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Clouds by Zach Sobiech, retrieved September 2, 2022
  10. ^ "Lakeland teenager with rare cancer saying goodbye through song". Twin Cities. May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  11. ^ "Zach Sobiech dies after his farewell song became a YouTube sensation". Christian Science Monitor. May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
  12. ^ "Zach Sobiech's funeral arrangements set". Pioneer Press. May 19, 2013.
  13. ^ Dyball, Renni. "Stars Serenade Zach Sobiech in Appreciation of His Brave Cancer Fight".
  14. ^ SoulPancake My Last Days series - Episode on Zach Sobiech on YouTube
  15. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Zach Sobeich, One Year Later | My Last Days". YouTube.
  16. ^ Hastings, Deborah (May 20, 2013). "Zach Sobiech, teen who wrote viral YouTube hit 'Clouds' about cancer, dies from it at 18". Daily News. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  17. ^ Full credits include, SoulPancake presents, in collaboration with Wayfarer Entertainment / Director/Producer: Justin Baldoni / Producer: Ahmed Kolacek / Associate Producer: Fouad Elgohari / Editor: Nick Pezzillo / with appearances by Bryan Cranston, Sarah Silverman, Ashley Tisdale, Colbie Caillat, Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles, Andy Grammer, Jenna Fischer, Angela Kinsey, Jenna Elfman, Jack McBrayer, Lumineers, Jason Derulo, Kelly Oxford, The Mowglis, Rachel Bilson, Kina Grannis, Passenger, Creed Bratton, Tyler Hilton, Mark Duplass, Josh Gad, Jason Wade, Paul McDonald, Ed Helms, Phillip Phillips, Justin Young, Alyssa Shouse
  18. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Zach Sobiech "Clouds" Celeberity Music Video | My Last Days". YouTube.
  19. ^ Divine, Mary. "5,000 sing Zach Sobiech's 'Clouds' in his memory at Mall of America". Pioneer Press. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  20. ^ "Zach Sobiech's Research Fund Reaches $1 Million In Donations". CBS. September 15, 2015.
  21. ^ New book will tell the story of Zach Sobiech, who wrote the song "Clouds"
  22. ^ McNary, Dave (February 1, 2016). "Warner Bros. Developing Zach Sobiech 'Fly a Little Higher' Movie". Variety.
  23. ^ On September 9, 2020, Disney posted a trailer on their official YouTube page, titled "Clouds l Official Trailer | Disney+", with the release date shown at 2:12. (YouTube references are not allowed on Wikipedia.)
  24. ^ Baldoni, Justin [@justinbaldoni] (October 19, 2019). "Day 1. 😭 I have felt Zach guiding this film from the beginning. But I've felt him stronger this week then ever before" – via Instagram.
  25. ^ a b c d e f "A Firm Handshake > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  26. ^ a b Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK – 01/06/2013". Tobias Zywietz. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  27. ^ "2013-06-01 Top 40 Independent Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  28. ^ "** ROCK - THE - CAUSE **". Archived from the original on February 18, 2008.
  29. ^ a b c Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Still Atop Hot 100, Zach Sobiech Debuts
  30. ^ Zach Sobiech discography
  31. ^ Zach Sobiech discography
  32. ^ "2013-06-01 Top 40 Independent Singles Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 1, 2013.

External links[edit]