Thursday, September 14, 2017

RIP, Grant Hart

Grant Hart in Seattle. (Andy photo)

Grant Hart of Husker Du passed away on Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 56.

By Andy

The first time I met Grant Hart, he was barefoot and a bit tipsy and singing Beatles songs a cappella in front of a club in San Diego.

This was July 9, 1982, and my friend Mike Paul had driven us from Torrance to San Diego to witness an epic gig with Husker Du, Minor Threat, Battalion of Saints and Men of Clay. It was the first time I heard Hart’s raspy, melodic voice in the flesh. We were stoked to see the friendly, gregarious man banging away on his drum kit and singing up a storm a few hours later.

About a week later, I befriended the Husker guys at SST Records near my home in Redondo Beach. I skateboarded over there to pick up some Black Flag flyers to attach to phone poles for an upcoming gig, and there they were. We spoke for a bit and then headed off to a local basketball court.

We were soon joined by some locals, whom we played in a pickup game. Me, Bob Mould and Greg Norton made some shots, but Hart was o-fer on the points front. Let’s just say he handled his drum sticks better than our passes.

During the game, one of our opponents constantly called me “junior,” and that upset Hart, who reprimanded the guy. Afterward, Hart asked me what I thought of the dude doing that, and I told him I didn’t care since I made my shots against them. I was a tiny lad back then, aged 15, and Norton joked that I should start consuming many milkshakes to beef up a bit. Mould chuckled, as he always did.

Later that week, the Husker guys visited my home to play more hoops and that led to my mom asking which one was Husker and which one was Du. A classic story that never stops giving.

I was drawn to each Husker guy during the years I hung out with them, and Hart intrigued me the most. A kooky guy with a big heart and always one to impart some words of wisdom.

He once gave me the biggest random bear hug after a gig that both surprised and embarrassed me a bit as the SST crew watched and laughed as he lifted me up and spun me around. I recalled that moment today and smiled.

Once, when my dad dropped me off at a Husker gig, Hart told me later something to the effect of how it was cool that dad trusted them to get me home safe after the gig. Another time, Hart walked me back to my car in a rough area of downtown Los Angeles after a show because he wanted to make sure I was safe.

The last time I spoke to Hart, he was wearing shoes and socks — for a while, anyway. While we spoke at length at a show in Seattle about eight years ago, we covered so many topics from the old days that my mind was spinning. It was good to see him and speak to him again and I’ll always cherish that conversation.

I remember looking over at Cat, who was seated nearby, and smiling when Hart took off his shoes and changed his socks in mid conversation. Classic Hart, for sure.

RIP, old friend.