Husker Du’s Greg Norton Remembers the ‘Wild Ride, Great Times, Bad Times’ With Grant Hart

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Earlier today, it was learned that Grant Hart, the drummer and co-leader of Husker Du, passed away from liver cancer. Greg Norton, the band’s bassist, has written a tribute to him.

“We were friends first,” he wrote on Facebook, “and it was a wild ride, great times, bad times, through all of it, you were my friend first. I will always remember you as my friend. We’ll see you further on down the trail. Peace.”

Norton had performed with Hart on July 2 at a surprise tribute concert for his former band mate at the Hook & Ladder in Minneapolis. The nature of the quickly arranged show, as well as pictures that surfaced of Hart looking frail, prompted speculation within the Husker Du fan community that the drummer was terminally ill.

After the 1988 breakup of Husker Du, Norton left the music industry to become a chef. Since last year, he’s been playing with Porcupine and was in the news last week doing press for Savage Young Du, a collection of some of the group’s earliest recordings that is coming out Nov. 10 on Numero Group. Ken Shipley, the label’s co-founder, posted a lengthy remembrance of working with Hart on its website today.

“To know him was to… I’m not sure ‘love him’ is the right choice of words,” he wrote. “I had a ton of respect for the guy. I enjoyed his company. I certainly liked him. Is there a word to describe that region between love and like? It’s impossible not to love/like a guy who sends you a Bob Mould diss Someecard at 2:47AM. How can you not love/like someone who insists on a high end sushi restaurant for your first meal together and then promptly orders enough food to cover his next two meals. Grant was tortured for sure, but he had a hell of a lot of fun bringing you in on the joke, even if you were part of the punchline.”

Shipley concluded by recalling the last time he saw Hart, which was this past March in Minneapolis. Sensing the end of his life was near, Hart asked Shipley if the box set would be released “before I go.”

“I’m sorry we failed, Grant,” he continued. “We pushed as hard as we could to get this beast into the wild, but it wasn’t hard enough. You told me several times that you thought the material was subpar, that there were too many photos of Greg Norton, and insisted we change the title at the last moment just to see everyone scramble. And now it’s two months to the release date and everyone is sad and asking a million questions. It’s chaos down here and you’re probably looking down with your arms crossed, a gigantic, mischievous grin running ear to ear. Just a boy living on Heaven Hill.”

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