Grant Hart, who sang and drummed for the 1980s era independent rock band, Husker Du, has died young.
Hart, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, died on September 13 around 11 p.m., reported Daily Variety. Husker Du is a Danish word for “Do you remember?
He was only 56-years-old. According to Rolling Stone, “Hart contributed songs like the classic overdose saga ‘Pink Turns to Blue,’ ‘Standing by the Sea’ and ‘Turn on the News,’ one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.” The band’s album Zen Arcade received accolades.
AV Club called the band’s sound an “impossibly catchy fusion of hardcore punk, noise, and pop.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hart Had Been Battling Cancer
Husker Du posted a caption-less photo of Grant Hart to its official Facebook page shortly after midnight on September 14.
According to Rolling Stone, Hart died “after being diagnosed with cancer.” The specific type of cancer was not revealed.
2. Husker Du Reached the Height of Its Popularity in the 1980s
According to Daily Variety, the Minneapolis originated Husker Du, “formed with fellow singer-songwriter Bob Mould and bassist Greg Norton in 1979, was one of the leading lights of the American independent-rock movement of the 1980s.
They underwent a negative split in 1988, and both Hart and Mould fronted other bands. “Mould went on to a successful solo career that included solo albums, a stint leading the band Sugar and even as a creative consultant for World Championship Wrestling; Hart released several albums and EPs over the years both solo and as leader of the band Nova Mob,” Daily Variety noted.
3. Mould Recalled How He Met Hart in a Record Store in Minnesota & Called Him a “Frighteningly Talented Musician’
In a tribute to Hart posted on his Facebook page, Mould recalled the band’s origins and posted photos of himself and Hart. He wrote:
“It was the Fall of 1978. I was attending Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. One block from my dormitory was a tiny store called Cheapo Records. There was a PA system set up near the front door blaring punk rock. I went inside and ended up hanging out with the only person in the shop. His name was Grant Hart.
The next nine years of my life was spent side-by-side with Grant. We made amazing music together. We (almost) always agreed on how to present our collective work to the world. When we fought about the details, it was because we both cared. The band was our life. It was an amazing decade.
We stopped working together in January 1988. We went on to solo careers, fronting our own bands, finding different ways to tell our individual stories. We stayed in contact over the next 29 years — sometimes peaceful, sometimes difficult, sometimes through go-betweens. For better or worse, that’s how it was, and occasionally that’s what it is when two people care deeply about everything they built together.
The tragic news of Grant’s passing was not unexpected to me. My deepest condolences and thoughts to Grant’s family, friends, and fans around the world.
Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician. Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember.
Godspeed, Grant. I miss you. Be with the angels.”
4. Hart Battled Drug Problems Throughout the Years but Helped Create Music Lauded as Influential
According to Rolling Stone, the band’s break up came because of “Hart’s drug use” but also “the feud between Hart and Mould and suicide of Hüsker Dü’s manager David Savoy on the eve of the Warehouse tour.”
The New York Times reported of the band’s 1980’s era successes that Husker Due released “six albums in fewer than six years. The band’s 1984 double album, ‘Zen Arcade,’ was lauded by The New York Times, which said it was arguably the best record ‘to have emerged from the hardcore scene.’”
According to AV Club, other Husker Du hits included, “Diane,” “Pink Turns Into Blue,” “Turn On The News,” “The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill,” “Books About UFOs,” “Green Eyes,” “Sorry Somehow,” and “She’s A Woman (And Now She Is A Man).”
5. Hart Spoke About Being Openly Gay
Hart told the AV Club in a wide-ranging interview that he was openly gay.
“I had toured with male companions very early on, and my partner at the time was posed with the question, ‘What does it feel like being the boyfriend of this famous man, blah, blah, blah?’” AV Club reported.
He added, “And really, it didn’t define much about the band. If anything, it would have been just another question mark, because we were so unlike the stereotype du jour.”