(JTA) — Indie rocker David Berman, founder of the Silver Jews, an influential band that earned critical acclaim throughout the 1990s, died on Wednesday, according to his Chicago-based record label Drag City.
He was 52, and a cause of death has not been announced.
Berman was set to start a tour for his new project, Purple Mountains, in September. The project’s eponymous first album, released in July, was Berman’s first new music in over a decade.
He battled various drug addictions over the years and had survived multiple overdoses.
Berman founded the Silver Jews with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, who would go on to found Pavement, a similarly beloved band that developed its own fervent cult following in the ’90s. Silver Jews released six albums between 1994 and 2008.
For much of his life, Berman described himself as “ethnically Jewish” but not religious. But in the mid-2000s he began studying Jewish texts after a voluntary rehab stint in Minnesota. One of the only ways to be allowed out of the facility was to go to church or synagogue, so he began attending. By 2004 he had fully converted to Judaism, according to a profile in The Ringer.
“When I started the band, the name Silver Jews had no literal meaning – it was just an abstraction,” he told The Jerusalem Post in 2006. “The irony is that over the last two years, I’ve gone through a transformation and I’ve decided to be a Jew. So the name has become something of a blessing.”