Gary Young, the wacky original drummer for the indie-rock band Pavement, died on Thursday, the band has confirmed. The cause of death has not been announced; he was 70 years old.
Singer/guitarist Stephen Malkmus wrote on social media in a short message: “Gary Young has passed away today. Gary’s drumming on Pavement was ‘take it and hit the disco’ … he nailed it too that.”
Although not a talented musician, his playing and antics on stage played a key role in Pavement’s original sound and persona. He joined founders Malkmus and guitarist Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg in 1989 in his hometown of Stockton, California, where he had a studio. The duo recorded their first EP, “Slay Tracks,” at their Louder Than You Think studio, as well as their 1992 debut album, “Slanted and Enchanted,” and Young sang on both records.
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Percussionist Bob Nastanovich, who joined the group at the time, told Rolling Stone in 2015: “Gary deserves a lot of credit when it comes to that album. He was the one. man. man.” .
Although the studio was technically running on 16 tracks, “one of the tracks wasn’t working, so [‘Slanted’] it’s probably one of the best albums ever recorded on a 15-track machine,” says Nastanovich.
Young brought a playful edge to the group’s early concerts, musically focused on Malkmus and Kannberg’s more studied approach (standing on his head and handing out food as two of his favorites).
“This man was from another planet,” said Nastanovich. “He could drink some of the largest amounts of some of the worst vodka ever made.”
However, it soon became clear that Pavement would need a more technically competent drummer if they were to progress to venues more suited to their growing popularity in the early 1990s. Young left the group in 1992 and was soon replaced by Steve West, who has remained with them ever since. They parted ways in 2000, but have reunited twice to tour over the years, including a world concert tour that began in 2022 and lasted over a year.
Young launched a brief solo career as Gary Young Hospital in the mid-1990s, reuniting with Pavement to produce two songs on the group’s final EP, “Major Leagues,” in 1999. He guest-starred on a few concerts with during the year 2010. come together.
A documentary about his life called “Louder Than You Think” premiered at SXSW earlier this year.