Singer-Songwriter David Berman, Who Founded Indie Band the Silver Jews, Dead at 52

David Berman recently returned to music with an album under the name Purple Mountains and was planning to go on tour

David Berman
Photo: YouTube

David Berman, the singer-songwriter who led the indie band the Silver Jews, has died. He was 52.

Berman’s record label, Drag City Records, announced the news on Wednesday, although a cause of death has not been revealed.

“We couldn’t be more sorry to tell you this,” the record company said in a tweet. “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.”

Berman founded the band the Silver Jews in 1989 with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich. The band enjoyed several years of acclaim and released six albums together before Berman retired from music in 2009 after their 2008 album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

But he returned to music in 2018, released an album under the moniker Purple Mountains in July and had plans to go on tour, according to a recent profile in The Ringer.

Reminiscing on his decades-long career, Berman told the outlet, “I take pride in the fact that I can walk away from things. My willingness to walk away has protected me, I realize that now. Being able to walk away from sessions, from poetry, from dreams of being a poetry professor.”

Berman also released a book of poetry in 1999 titled Actual Air.

David Berman
David Berman. YouTube

Several indie artists expressed their grief at the news, sharing tributes to the acclaimed artist on Twitter.

“Hurts that David Berman was suffering so much,” wrote singer-songwriter Ryley Walker. “He brought me and I’m sure all of you so much joy. Twisted eccentricities of the suburbs were psychedelic cartoons in his lyrics. Sad day. It’s raining in NYC.”

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“this is terrible news. as a poet and songwriter and fellow umass alum i couldn’t have respected him more. RIP david, what a loss of a tremendous talent,” said Sadie Dupuis, vocalist for the band Speedy Ortiz.

The Mountain Goats tweeted out, “I could sit here all day and quote memorable David Berman couplets and never grow tired. He had no competition. He was the competition,” while Japanese Breakfast said, “Jesus Christ David Berman you f—— legend my heart is sinking.”

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