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David Berman, the singer-songwriter best known for leading the long-running, critically acclaimed indie band Silver Jews, died Wednesday at the age of 52. Drag City, the Chicago record label that has released all of the group’s albums dating back to 1994’s Starlite Walker, confirmed the musician’s death. The label did not immediately reveal the cause of death.
“We couldn’t be more sorry to tell you this. David Berman passed away earlier today,” the label wrote in a statement. “A great friend and one of the most inspiring individuals we’ve ever known is gone. Rest easy, David.”
Berman - Silver - Jews - Stephen - Malkmus
Berman formed Silver Jews in 1989 with Stephen Malkmus and another future Pavement member, Bob Nastanovich. Starting with Starlite Walker, the group released six acclaimed albums, including 1996’s The Natural Bridge, 2001’s Bright Flight, and 2005’s Tanglewood Numbers. The band released their last album, 2008’s Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, before Berman retired from making music. Of 1998’s American Water, Rolling Stone‘s Rob Sheffield wrote, “It’s torture to pick just one highlight from such a flawless album.”
“I guess I am moving over to another category. Screenwriting or Muckraking,” Berman wrote on Drag City’s message board before his final Silver Jews show in 2009. “I’ve got to move on. Can’t be like all the careerists doncha know. I’m forty two and I know what to do. I’m a writer, see? … I always said we would stop before we got bad. If I continue to record I might accidentally write the answer song to [R.E.M.’s] ‘Shiny Happy People.'”
Berman - Secret - Suicide - Crack - Addiction
Berman also revealed “my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction”: His father, former lobbyist Richard Berman. The two had been estranged for years over the elder’s ties to the gun and alcohol industry. “A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company...
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