Forming in Minneapolis in 1979 when vocalist/guitarist Bob Mould met vocalist/drummer Grant Hart and bassist Greg Norton. Husker Du began by gigging locally in Minneapolis tapping into the growing Punk/Hardcore scene. After touring nationally and releasing the thrashy genre exercises "Land Speed Record" (1981) and "Everything Falls Apart" (1982) and the E.P. "Metal Circus" (1983), the band began to rapidly mature musically with the two songwriters Mould and Hart finally coming into their own as true song craftsmen on the adored "Zen Arcade" (1984). This record managed to subvert all genre expectations for a number of reasons - it was a double-album (unheard of in the underground at this point) and leapt between several genres, including elements of Folk, Jazz & Pop as well as the more familiar punk.
Heading into 1985 with the band still touring constantly, tensions began to grow between the two songwriters, with drug and alcohol abuse coming more into play. 1985 was on the whole a triumphant year, seeing Husker Du move beyond the punk underground with "Zen Arcade". The band's new found pop sensibility, and two critically adored albums of the year "Flip Your Wig" and "New Day Rising" moved them still further towards national prominence.
In 1986 the group signed to Warners (with the predictable accusations of selling out). In the end "Candy Apple Grey" (while not up to the standards of its immediate predecessors) was still a good album, which maintained Husker Du's artistic vision. Of more concern were the still escalating tensions between Mould and Hart, as the latter descended into heroin addiction (Bob Mould having cleaned up).
These tensions were all too apparent on their valedictory album "Warehouse: Songs and Stories" (1987): while a double, like "Zen Arcade", this played like two solo albums rather than the band efforts of the mid 80's. Despite these difficulties the album received extremely positive reviews. Husker Du were about to embark on the tour supporting the album when their manager David Savoy committed suicide. This understandably devastated the band - the tour was played anyway, but things were never to recover. Mould announced the band had split in January 1988, in an air of mystery. Rumours abounded; the extent of Hart's heroin addiction had progressed too far, an affair between the two gay songwriters had soured leaving them unable to work together, their prolific song writing had dried up. No matter what the rumours said, the band were gone. Mould formed Sugar, while Hart (after a period of rehabilitation) became a solo artist. Norton retired from music.
Mould summed up the band perfectly in an interview years later; "We were the fastest band in the world, then we were the loudest band in the world, then we were the new Beatles, and then we broke up."
by John Fuller