David Berman, the poet and musician best known for leading the indie rock band Silver Jews, died Wednesday at the age of 52, his record label announced. No cause of death was mentioned.
“A great friend and one of the most inspiring individuals we’ve ever known is gone,” the announcement tweeted by label Drag City says.
In July, Berman’s latest indie band, Purple Mountains, released a 10-track eponymous debut album. He was scheduled to begin touring with the group this weekend. Drag City called the upcoming shows “a (potentially) once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The project was received as a welcome comeback for Berman, who recorded six albums under the moniker Silver Jews, the last one in 2009.
Berman was the only constant member of the Silver Jews, which he founded in 1989.
In 1998, Pitchfork ranked Silver Jews’s American Water the 12th best album of the year, saying it was “the pinnacle of a certain strain of indie rock: smart but unpolished, grounded but opaque, the down-home sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the country side of the Rolling Stones executed by college boys raised on punk.”
Berman was also a published poet, releasing the collection Actual Air in 1999.
Born in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1967, Berman grew up in Virginia and Texas before moving to Hoboken, New Jersey with University of Virginia classmates and Silver Jews co-founders Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich.
After Berman’s death was announced Wednesday night, Malkmus tweeted that he hoped his friend found peace.
“Depression is crippling,” he said. “He was a one of a kinder the songs he wrote were his main passion esp at the end. Hope death equals peace cuz he could sure use it.”
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