Alternative-rock pioneer Grant Hart, best known as the drummer and co-singer for seminal '80s band Hüsker Dü, has died after battling liver cancer. He was 56.
Along with his bandmates—bassist Greg Norton and singer-guitarist Bob Mould—Hart fused the power and fury of punk and hardcore with an increasingly sophisticated melodic sensibility. Along the way, the St. Paul, Minnesota–based trio influenced many other acts in the American underground, including many (like the Pixies and Nirvana) who would go on to obliterate the barrier dividing alternative and mainstream.
Hüsker Dü itself never got to reap the rewards for all of its pioneering efforts; the band ended acrimoniously while on tour in support of its sixth studio album, 1987's Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Hart went on to form the band Nova Mob, switching to guitar and, as the Straight's own Mike Usinger once observed "reinventing himself as a prog-fixated folk-punk with an occasional taste for rock opera". Hart also released a number of solo albums before taking a decade-long hiatus at the end of the '90s. His most recent release was The Argument, a critically acclaimed 2013 double album based on John Milton's Paradise Lost. At the time of his death, Hart was reportedly working on a concept album about Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
Despite their differences (and having made it very clear that a reunion was never, ever going to happen), the members of Hüsker Dü did seem to have made amends in recent years. Hart and Mould performed two songs together at a benefit concert in 2004. All three former bandmates signed a licensing agreement and launched an official online merchandise store in 2015. Most recently, the three participated in the compilation of a 69-track box set documenting the band's early years. That set, titled Savage Young Dü, is set for release in November.
In a Facebook post this morning, Mould said of his late comrade, "Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician. Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember."
From Hüsker Dü's 1986 LP Candy Apple Grey, this is "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely":
And here's Hart performing "So Far From Heaven" from The Argument: