David Berman, the revered and respected frontman of the bands Silver Jews and Purple Mountain, passed away this week at the age of 52. Berman put out six albums with Silver Jews, starting with 1994's Starlite Walker. The band's final album was the 2008 LP Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. He retired from music after that project, but returned in 2019 with Purple Mountains' self-titled album.
The news of Berman's death was shared by Drag City Records, the label who released the vast majority of Berman's musical projects. They did not share a possible cause of death. Following the news of his death, many of Berman's fans and peers have taken to social media to lament the loss.
We were supposed to see Purple Mountains in 2 days, playing with Bejar solo. Was looking forward to meeting David Berman. Never knew him but his death feels so close. Like Scott Miller’s death felt close. At least we have the music to hang out with," The New Pornographers vocalist Carl Newman tweeted.
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. pic.twitter.com/5n5bctcu4j— 𝕯𝖗𝖆𝖌 𝕮𝖎𝖙𝖞 (@dragcityrecords) August 7, 2019
"I could sit here all day and quote memorable David Berman couplets and never grow tired. He had no competition. He was the competition," indie rock icons The Mountain Goats said.
"David Berman was so unafraid of publicly wrestling with his own sadness, and so unafraid of being honest about what it is to sometimes lose that wrestling match. There are so many ways to feel small while tumbling through the world. Berman made a few seem comforting," poet Hanif Abdurraqib offered.
I wouldn’t normally share this, but it’s so strange.
Yesterday, I finally listened to David Berman’s new album after hearing so much about it.
It reminded me of a very nice note he wrote me in 2008. Today, i found it in my gmail archive, just hours before I heard the news. pic.twitter.com/ydgD6z59Pa— Dave Paulson (@ItsDavePaulson) August 8, 2019
"I know it's a stereotype to say that Silver Jews were a band for music critics and/or record store clerks, but there's a poignant truth to this. People who dig deep into music for a living found a kindred soul in David Berman. He made music for those who breathed music," author Jason Heller added.0comments
Berman is survived by his wife, Cassie Berman, who was his bandmate in Silver Jews.
Photo Credit: Gary Wolstenholme / Redferns / Getty