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Grant Hart, 1961-2017

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Grant Hart, the drummer and singer-songwriter for the great 80s band Hüsker Dü, passed away yesterday. Dave McKenna’s story of staying a day with him in Minneapolis is pretty amazing:

And more. He took us all over Minneapolis and St. Paul, pointing out rock landmarks (“That’s the Metal Circus cover window,” “There’s the Let It Be house,” etc …), brought us to his friends’ restaurants—he knew everybody in town and vice versa—and gave lectures on the dark side of local hero Henry Ford, who, along with building big automotive plants in the Twin Cities in the early 20th century, was, we learned from Grant, a dedicated anti-Semite. Hart also told rock and roll tales, like learning from Hüsker Dü tours which neighborhoods had the best drugs in every city. And, probably to humor his starstruck guests, he spoke of Mould the way an angry divorcee would speak to the children about their other parent. (We learned, among other things, that Hart was still peeved about that time he drove by the Hüsker Dü studio in the wee hours and caught Mould leaving the building with his guitar, clearly having just violated the band’s pact not to add overdubs to recent recordings.)

Hart looked like crap, but was in a great mood when we got to the studio, even after we proved that all our warnings of utter talentlessness were true. He drummed hard as hell, shrieked that same amazing shriek that had awed me for decades, and even played piano in a sweet but failed attempt to save one of our songs from awfulness. He’d told us he’d been clean narcotically for years, but everybody took a break during the session to help Hart out when he confessed he’d hidden a cube of hash somewhere in the studio and forgotten where but really wanted it. (We found it, and he smoked.) When it was over, he wouldn’t accept any apologies from us for the sounds. “They can’t all be Zen Arcade,” he told us.

He had a lot of demons, as fans know, but he was a terrifically talented songwriter and his drum sound was critical to sound of one of the peaks of American indie. R.I.P.

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