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David Berman Dead: Stephen Malkmus, Kurt Vile and more pay tributes


A wave of tributes have been paid to David Berman, the supremely talented songwriter who has passed away at the age of 52.

Berman, the founding member of Silver Jews alongside Pavement Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, earned a cult following before retiring from music in 2009.

The end to Berman’s ten-year music hiatus came to an end earlier this year with creation of his new moniker Purple Mountains, a project which resulted in the release of his eponymous debut album in May.

The tragic news of Berman’s passing was confirmed by independent record label Drag City, who said: “We couldn’t be more sorry to tell you this. David Berman passed away earlier today. A great friend and one of the most inspiring individuals we’ve ever known is gone. Rest easy, David.”

In reaction, tributes by Berman’s friends, collaborators and colleagues have been arriving regularly. Bob Nastanovich, Berman’s former Silver Jews bandmate, said: “I was saddened to hear that David died. Stephen called me to tell me this afternoon. For most of my life, I was amazed by David as a person, a humorist and a writer. It was enlightening to have such a talented friend at a young age and realize that the talent wasn’t always a blessing. 

“David battled mental illness for nearly all of his life. He had professional help and the unyielding support of hundreds of good friends. He had many loving and devoted fans. Please try to cherish your memories of him and his words and music including his last album Purple Mountains. I know I will and I’m grateful that the list of good memories and stories is long.”

Stephen Malkmus, who formed Silver Jews with Berman and Nastanovich, added: “His death is fucking dark,” in a post on social media. “Depression is crippling… 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.”

Following on from Berman’s bandmates, Kurt Vile took to Instagram to say: “So crushed. I grew up on David Berman and the Silver Jews catalogue in mostly real time… in such a way that his music and lyrics and vocals have touched me to this day and are still growing in significance.”

He added: “David’s music always hit on a basic human gut level just in the power of his lyrics and voice alone… in a way no other modern artist of my generation has been able to.”

See the full tributes, below.