RIP David Berman — Indie Singer-Songwriter Dead At 52

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How Did David Berman Die? New Details On The Death Of Indie Singer Songwriter At 52

David Berman, a singer-songwriter who formed the indie rock group Silver Jews in the 1990s has died. He was 52. Berman was slated to go on tour with his new project Purple Mountains on Saturday, August 10th in New York. The group had tour dates across the country over about six weeks, concluding in Los Angeles on September 23rd. His label, Drag City, called Berman "a great friend and one of the most inspiring individuals we've ever known." How did David Berman die?

1. Cause of death

David Berman struggled with drug addiction for years. Berman became a regular user of crack, heroin and meth in the early 2000s. He accidentally overdosed twice. On November 19, 2003, Berman attempted to commit suicide in Nashville by consuming 300 Xanax pills combined with crack cocaine. About a year later he checked into drug rehab at the Hazelden Foundation. On August 8, 2019, David Berman passed away. No cause of death has been released, though musician Joe Pernice said in a now-deleted tweet that Berman committed suicide. 

2. His early years

David Berman was born January 4, 1967 in Williamsburg, Virginia. His parents divorced when he was seven. His mother moved to Ohio. Berman moved with his father to Dallas. He went to the University of Virginia, where he met fellow students Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and James McNew. The four formed an experimental music band called Ectoslavia. After college, the four moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. Bermanand Malkmus got jobs as security guards at the Whitney Museum in New York City and continued to make music with Nastanovich under the name Silver Jews.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Ben Marcus (@mathgun) on Aug 7, 2019 at 8:31pm PDT

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3. The Silver Jews

Over the years, Berman gave a number of explanations for the band's name. One was that it was a nickname for blond Jews. Another was it was a reference to the 60s experimental rock band Silver Apples. The Silver Jews' music incorporated elements of country music and discordant noise. The band rarely performed live. The Silver Jews recorded six studio albums from 1994 to 2008. The band did tour in 2006 after the release of the album Tanglewood Numbers. The Silver Jews broke up on January 31, 2009 after playing a final show in Tennessee. Berman attributed the end of the Silver Jews to his strained relationship with his estranged father, Richard Berman, a conservative gun and tobacco lobbyist. He wanted to "right the wrongs" of his father.

4. He suffered from depression

Berman's struggle with depression was well-known. His friend and fellow Silver Jews band mate Stephen Malkmus wrote on Twitter Wednesday night after his death was confirmed: "He was a one of a kinder the songs he wrote were his main passion esp at the end. Hope death equals peace cuz he could sure use it."

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5. Purple Mountains

Purple Mountains was to be Berman's comeback. The band and its music was inspired and fueled by the dissolution of his marriage. Many of the songs on the album Purple Mountains allude to Berman's estranged wife, Cassie. On the first single "All My Happiness Is Gone," Berman sings, "Ten thousand afternoons ago, all my happiness just overflowed. That was life at first and goal to go." Purple Mountains was slated to begin a six-week, nationwide tour on Aug. 10.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Kenn Gauvin (@kenngauvin.art) on Aug 9, 2019 at 9:02am PDT

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6. His wife Cassie 

At the time of his death, David Berman was living in Chicago. He was separated from his wife, the musician and fellow Silver Jews band member Cassie Berman. The couple still own a house together in Nashville. Earlier this year, Berman revealed that he was over $100,000 in debt on credit cards and loans. He said he was always over his head and it was "draining to worry about."

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If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free from anywhere in the U.S. at 1-800-273-8255.

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.