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David Berman, Revered Singer-Songwriter of Silver Jews, Dies at 52

Berman’s longtime record label Drag City announced the news Wednesday night.

David Berman, co-founder of revered New York indie rock band Silver Jews, has died. For three decades, he made his mark as a musician, writer and cartoonist. Drag City, Berman’s longtime record label announced the news Wednesday night. His cause of death is unknown at this time. He was 52.

“We couldn’t be more sorry to tell you this,” Drag City wrote on Twitter. “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 formed Silver Jews in 1989 with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich (also of the band Pavement), who attended the University of Virginia with him. Silver Jews released six albums with Berman as the sole constant member, including the 1998 classic American Water,  before Berman retired from music in 2009 following years of struggles with substance abuse.

Developing a cult following for his wry literary style, Berman returned to music last month with the eponymous debut album by his new band, Purple Mountains. His North American tour behind the new album was set to begin this weekend. He was also a respected figure in the poetry world, releasing his 1999 poetry collection Actual Air and 2009 cartoon collection The Portable February.

Berman is survived by his wife Cassie.