Musician David Berman, best known for forming indie rock band Silver Jews, has died at the age of 52.
The 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.”
The poet and songwriter, formed Silver Jews along with Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich and remained the band’s only original member before they disbanded in 2009.
Shortly after ending Silver Jews, the supremely talented songwriter announced his retirement from music. At the time he decided to walk away from music, Berman cited his decision was based on the premise of “finding a meaningful way of undoing the damage that his estranged father Richard had brought upon society.” Berman’s father was a lobbyist for the alcohol and firearm industries. In a message confirming his retirement, Berman his father “evil,” a “human molestor,” an “exploiter,” a “scoundrel,” and “a world historical motherfucking son of a bitch.”
After a ten-year hiatus from music, Berman finally returned much to the joy of his adoring fans. In 2018, he co-produced Yonatan Gat’s critically acclaimed album Universalists and announced his new moniker ‘Purple Mountains’. Earlier this summer, using his new name, Berman released his first new material in a decade with his eponymous debut album.
Prior to his passing, Berman was planning a string of tour dates in support of his new album.
It was only last month that Berman sat down in conversation with Double J’s Henry Wagons, in the interview the musician explained his joy at being back in the recording studio. “It feels pretty good. It feels kinda like doing business. When you’re 53, you don’t mind doing business.”
He added: “It takes your mind off the terrors, the existential terrors.”