The former Hüsker Dü vocalist/drummer and Nova Mob frontman was 56
Drummer, vocalist and founding member of hardcore band Hüsker Dü Grant Hart has died aged 56, it was reported by Variety this morning. He had been diagnosed with cancer in recent months. Vocalist, guitarist and fellow songwriter Bob Mould, who founded the Minnesota rock outfit with Hart and bassist Greg Norton in 1979, paid tribute on his Facebook page: “It was the Fall of 1978. I was attending Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota. One block from my dormitory was a tiny store called Cheapo Records. There was a PA system set up near the front door blaring punk rock. I went inside and ended up hanging out with the only person in the shop. His name was Grant Hart.
“The next nine years of my life was spent side-by-side with Grant. We made amazing music together,” he continues. “Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician. Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember... Godspeed, Grant. I miss you. Be with the angels.”
Born Grantzberg Vernon Hart in St Paul, Minnesota in 1961, he started playing drums as a child. It was during his time as a student that he formed Hüsker Dü (meaning "Do You Remember" in Danish and Norwegian, and taken from a 1970s board game) with Mould and Norton. They released their first single "Statues" on their own Reflex label in 1981. Their debut album Land Speed Record, recorded live on 15 August 1981 at Minneapolis venue 7th Street Entry, was released in 1982 by New Alliance.
Distinct from Mould’s astringent style of songwriting, Hart’s songs tended towards a highly melodic, almost power-pop sound, albeit often with acerbic lyrics. On the 1983 EP Metal Circus Hart sang lead on his compositions “Diane” and “It's Not Funny Anymore”, both of which became Dü live staples. After releasing a series of records – including Zen Arcade, Flip Your Wig and New Day Rising – which saw the group evolving from their hardcore roots while establishing a blueprint for much of the college/alternative rock of the 80s and 90s, they signed to Warner Bros, who released Candy Apple Grey (1986) and the band's final studio album Warehouse: Songs & Stories (1987).
Hüsker Dü disbanded in 1988 amid cancelled gigs and Hart’s struggle with drug addiction. Hart followed the split by issuing his solo EP 2541 and within a year he had assembled new band Nova Mob, with Michael Crego on drums and Tom Merkl on bass (Hart took on vocal and guitar duties). Named after William Burroughs’s novel Nova Express, Nova Mob released The Last Days Of Pompeii on Rough Trade in 1991 and Nova Mob on Restless in 1994.
After Nova Mob disbanded, Hart resumed his solo career, releasing Good News For Modern Man on Pachyderm Records in 1999 and, a decade later, Hotwax on Con d'Or. His most recent album was The Argument, released via Domino in 2013. A major set of unreleased early Husker Dü recordings Savage Young Dü was recently announced by Numero Group.