Grant Hart of pi­o­neer­ing in­die rock band Husker Du dies

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - OBITUARIES - By Jeff Bae­nen and Steve Karnowski

MIN­NEAPO­LIS » Wide­spread com­mer­cial suc­cess largely eluded Grant Hart and his pi­o­neer­ing in­die-rock trio, Husker Du. But the hard­work­ing band emerged as one of the heavy­weights of Min­neapo­lis’ bur­geon­ing 1980s mu­sic scene, and was cred­ited with in­spir­ing genre-defin­ing acts that fol­lowed, in­clud­ing Nir­vana and the Pixies.

Hart, who died Wed­nes­day after be­ing di­ag­nosed with cancer, was the drum­mer and co-vo­cal­ist for the band he formed with bassist Greg Nor­ton and guitarist-singer Bob Mould in 1978 in St. Paul.

The loud, hard-edged trio toured re­lent­lessly and ruled the lo­cal mu­sic scene, along with Prince and The Re­place­ments.

“They called it punk rock. I al­ways thought it was like this wall of sound,” for­mer Twin Cities rock critic P.D. Lar­son said Thursday. “As they grew, there was def­i­nitely some melodic com­po­nents that weren’t im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent. They quickly tran­scended that hard-core la­bel.”

Husker Du, named after a Scan­di­na­vian board game, “Do you re­mem­ber?” (Nor­ton said he ut­tered the phrase as Hart was mak­ing up silly lyrics to a song), be­gan as a punk out­fit be­fore mov­ing into al­ter­na­tive rock.

The band re­leased a string of crit­i­cally ac­claimed al­bums be­fore sign­ing with ma­jor la­bel Warner Bros. Records. They re­leased two more al­bums be­fore dis­band­ing in 1987, and Hart later pur­sued a solo ca­reer. De­spite never ex­pe­ri­enc­ing huge com­mer­cial suc­cess, Husker Duwas seen as a ma­jor in­flu­ence on sev­eral acts that did.

Singer-song­writer Ryan Adams was among those artists, tweet­ing Thursday: “Your mu­sic saved my life. It was with me the day I left home. It’s with me now. Travel safely to the sum­mer­lands.”

The 56-year- old Hart died late Wed­nes­day at a Min­neapo­lis hospi­tal from com­pli­ca­tions of liver cancer and hep­ati­tis C, his wife, Brigid McGough, said in an email to Min­nesota Pub­lic Ra­dio’s The Cur­rent. The band’s record la­bel also con­firmed the death to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“It was com­pletely un­ex­pected so it is a huge shock,” McGough wrote.

On Thursday, Mould re­called how he met Hart in the fall of 1978, at a nearly empty St. Paul record store: Hart was clerk­ing and the PA sys­tem was blar­ing punk rock.

“The next nine years of my life was spent side-by­side with Grant,” Mould wrote on his Face­book page, de­scrib­ing Hart as “a gifted vis­ual artist, a won­der­ful story teller, and a fright­en­ingly tal­ented mu­si­cian.”

“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,” Mould wrote.

In a sep­a­rate post, writ­ten to Hart, Nor­ton said: “It was a wild ride, great times, bad times, through all of it, you were my friend first.”

Hart’s friends had known for months that he was ill with cancer. His last pub­lic per­for­mance was July 1 in Min­neapo­lis. Hart thought he was go­ing to play with friends but ar­rived to a sur­prise trib­ute be­ing held in his honor.

The event fea­tured long­time col­lab­o­ra­tors and friends, in­clud­ing Dave Pirner of Soul Asy­lum and Lori Bar­bero of Babes in Toy­land. Bar­bero or­ga­nized the event, ask­ing Hart’s fel­low mu­si­cians to play his songs.

“It was an honor for ev­ery­body to be un­der the same room and spend time with each other — and es­pe­cially him. It was a very won­der­ful night,” she said.

Record la­bel Numero Group an­nounced this month that a three- disk box set of Husker Du’s early work, “Sav­age Young Du,” would be re­leased in Novem­ber.

JEFF WHEELER — STAR TRI­BUNE VIA AP

In this May 2000photo, for­mer Husker Du drum­mer Grant Hart poses for a photo in Min­neapo­lis. Ken Ship­ley, who runs the band’s record la­bel Numero Group, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Hart died at the age of 56on Wed­nes­day of cancer at his home in St. Paul, Minn.

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