David Berman, Poetic Songwriter Behind Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, Dies at 52

Photo by David Berman

On Wednesday evening, Drag City Records announced that David Berman, the singer-songwriter behind the beloved rock projects Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, passed away at the age of 52.

In a statement released on Twitter, Drag City wrote, “We couldn’t be more sorry to tell you this. 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 first came to prominence as principal of the Silver Jews in the late 1980s. The band would go on to release six albums together (though with varying lineups), eventually disbanding after the release of Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea in 2008.

Earlier this year, Berman released a self-titled album under the name Purple Mountains, marking his first new release in over a decade. In an interview with American Songwriter, Berman told Chris Rutledge of writing the new music, “Most people I know as creators, they can’t carry a thought through a whole day, much less several days of just being laser-focused on one verse trying to get it right. Writing, for me, is not the act of a master. It is through stupidity; it’s through writing 100 bad lines, you get to the one good line. The most important skill, the most important quality that I need to get through that is just to keep my ego together and my esteem together.” 

No cause of death is known yet. Listen to Purple Mountains’ “Darkness and Cold” below.