MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Widespread commercial success largely eluded Grant Hart and his pioneering indie-rock trio, Husker Du. But the hard-working band emerged as one of the heavyweights of Minneapolis’ burgeoning 1980s music scene, and was credited with inspiring genre-defining acts that followed, including Nirvana and the Pixies.
Hart, who died Wednesday after being diagnosed with cancer, was the drummer and co-vocalist for the band he formed with bassist Greg Norton and guitarist-singer Bob Mould in 1978 in St. Paul.
The loud, hard-edged trio toured relentlessly and ruled the local music scene, along with Prince and The Replacements.
“They called it punk rock. I always thought it was like this wall of sound,” former Twin Cities rock critic P.D. Larson said Thursday. “As they grew, there was definitely some melodic components that weren’t immediately evident. They quickly transcended that hard-core label.”
Husker Du, named after a Scandinavian board game, “Do you remember?” (Norton said he uttered the phrase as Hart was making up silly lyrics to a song), began as a punk outfit before moving into alternative rock.
The band released a string of critically acclaimed albums before signing with major label Warner Bros. Records. They released two more albums before disbanding in 1987, and Hart later pursued a solo career. Despite never experiencing huge commercial success, Husker Du was seen as a major influence on several acts that did.
Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams was among those artists, tweeting Thursday: “Your music saved my life. It was with me the day I left home. It’s with me now. Travel safely to the summerlands.”
The 56-year-old Hart died late Wednesday at a Minneapolis hospital from complications of liver cancer and hepatitis C, his wife, Brigid McGough, said in an email to Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current. The band’s record label also confirmed the death to The Associated Press.