Grant Hart, the man who helped form the Minnesota-based indie band Hüsker Dü, died at the age of 56 on September 13. The band posted a photo of Hart, its co-founder and longtime drummer, on its Facebook page without a caption. Hart’s publicist later confirmed he died after a long battle with kidney cancer.
Hart formed the band with singer-songwriter Bob Mould and bassist Greg Norton in 1979.
“(Hüsker Dü) was one of the leading lights of the American independent-rock movement of the 1980s,” an obituary in the Chicago Tribune said.
The band was influenced by punk and hardcore rock and were at their most popular just as they decided to break up in 1988. It was a split that was so bitter that the three band members only recently started talking regularly once again, but only because of an upcoming release of rare Hüsker Dü material.
“Hearing this stuff for the first time in a couple of decades, I (was) realizing the historical significance of what we were doing at the time,” Hart recently said during an interview with NPR. “Of course, at the time, we were a bunch of kids playing rock ‘n’ roll in the basement. But the potential that Hüsker had showed right out of the gate.”
The three former bandmates each went on to have solo careers. Mould posted an emotional tribute to Hart on Facebook upon learning the news. In the statement, Mould talked about how the two met in 1978 and started writing music together.
“Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician,” Mould wrote. “Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember.”
Hüsker Dü was formed in Minneapolis in 1979 and toured extensively around the nation from 1982-87. The band release seven studio albums during that span, each which had a different tone.
The band signed a record deal with Warner Bros. in 1986 and continued a rise in popularity with music fans. However, turmoil started to brew shortly after releasing Candy Apple Grey and Warehouse in 1987.
Band manager David Savoy committed suicide, and Mould was tasked with taking over his duties. According to the band, Hart’s drug addition and other contributing factors helped lead to a break up.
Hart was the youngest child of a “typical American dysfunctional family,” he said in a 2002 book titled Our Band Could Be Your Life.
Hart got interested in music when he was 10 shortly after his older brother was killed by a drunk driver. He said in the book that he inherited his brother’s drum set and music records and began playing in bands when he was a teenager.