Grant Hart was the drum­mer and vo­cal­ist for the pi­o­neer­ing in­die rock band Hüsker Dü.


Grant Hart, the drum­mer and vo­cal­ist for the pi­o­neer­ing in­die rock band Hüsker Dü, which was seen as a ma­jor in­flu­ence on Nir­vana, the Pix­ies and other genre­defin­ing bands, died Sept. 13 at his home in St. Paul, Minn. He was 56.

Ken Ship­ley, who runs the band’s record la­bel, Numero Group, con­firmed the death. The cause was cancer.

Mr. Hart formed Hüsker Dü — the name of a Scan­di­na­vian board game mean­ing “Do you re­mem­ber?” — in 1978 with bassist Greg Nor­ton and gui­tarist Bob Mould, with whom he shared singing du­ties. The band be­gan as a punk out­fit in St. Paul be­fore mov­ing into al­ter­na­tive rock. Af­ter the trio broke up in 1987, Mr. Hart launched a solo ca­reer.

Hüsker Dü was never a huge com­mer­cial suc­cess, but the group was con­sid­ered an in­spi­ra­tion to many later bands, in­clud­ing Nir­vana, Green Day, the Pix­ies and the Foo Fight­ers.

Mould re­called on his Face­book page how the two met in 1978 at a St. Paul record store where Mr. Hart was clerk­ing and the sound sys­tem was blar­ing punk rock.

“The next nine years of my life was spent side-by-side with Grant,” Mould wrote. “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.”

One of the ways Hüsker Dü dif­fered from many al­ter­na­tive rock groups was that Mould was openly gay and Mr. Hart was openly bi­sex­ual.

In the band’s early years, Mould was con­sid­ered the pri­mary cre­ative force, writ­ing most of the songs and tak­ing the role of lead singer. Mr. Hart, who usu­ally played drums bare­foot, later be­gan to write and sing more orig­i­nal ma­te­rial.

The band reached its peak in the mid-1980s with three in­flu­en­tial al­bums. The 1984 dou­ble al­bum “Zen Ar­cade” was con­sid­ered a land­mark record­ing and a ma­jor in­flu­ence on the grow­ing al­ter­na­tive rock scene. With songs such as “Pink Turns to Blue,” “Stand­ing by the Sea” and “Turn on the News,” the al­bum oc­cu­pied the No. 33 spot on Rolling Stone mag­a­zine’s list of the top 100 al­bums of the 1980s.

The group quickly fol­lowed up the suc­cess of “Zen Ar­cade” the next year with two more well-re­ceived al­bums, “New Day Ris­ing” — fea­tur­ing the songs “The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” and “Books About UFOs” — and “Flip Your Wig.”

In a 1985 re­view of “Flip Your Wig,” Rolling Stone critic Rob Tan­nen­baum de­scribed Mr. Hart as the group’s “res­i­dent spir­i­tu­al­ist” and “the voice of dippy wis­dom in Mould’s emo­tional mael­strom.”

Amid cre­ative dif­fer­ences and grow­ing ten­sion at­trib­uted to Mr. Hart’s heroin ad­dic­tion, the band had an ac­ri­mo­nious breakup in the mid­dle of a tour in 1987.

Grantszburg Ver­non Hart was born March 18, 1961, in St. Paul. His fa­ther was a shop teacher, and his mother worked at a credit union.

He be­gan play­ing a drum set that be­longed to his older brother, who was killed in a car ac­ci­dent when Mr. Hart was 10. He played key­board in bands be­fore form­ing Hüsker Dü.

Mr. Hart con­tin­ued to re­lease al­bums on his own and make solo ap­pear­ances, play­ing gui­tar and singing new ma­te­rial. Sev­eral of the songs he wrote for Hüsker Dü were cov­ered by other groups, in­clud­ing Green Day and the Foo Fight­ers.

He re­leased his fi­nal solo al­bum, “The Ar­gu­ment,” in 2013, a mu­si­cal mash-up of John Mil­ton’s “Par­adise Lost” and the ideas of nov­el­ist Wil­liam S. Bur­roughs, who was an ac­quain­tance of Mr. Hart’s.

Mr. Hart’s last pub­lic per­for­mance was July 1 at a club in Min­neapo­lis, where a sur­prise show was staged for him as a trib­ute.

In­for­ma­tion on sur­vivors was not avail­able.


Grant Hart in Min­neapo­lis in 2000. Hart formed Hüsker Dü in 1978 with bassist Greg Nor­ton and singer-gui­tarist Bob Mould.

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