The music world is mourning the loss of Gary Young, the original drummer and producer of the influential indie rock band Pavement. Young passed away on Thursday at his home in Stockton, California, after years of ill health. He was 70 years old.
A Pioneering Force in Indie Rock
Young was a key figure in the early days of Pavement, the band that emerged from Stockton in 1989 and went on to become one of the most acclaimed and influential indie rock acts of the 1990s. Young owned a small studio in Stockton called Louder Than You Think, where he recorded Pavement’s first EPs and their debut album, Slanted and Enchanted, which is widely regarded as a masterpiece of lo-fi indie rock.
Young’s drumming style was unconventional and spontaneous, often adding unexpected twists and turns to the songs. He also contributed to the production and engineering of Pavement’s recordings, helping to create their distinctive sound. Young was also known for his eccentric and unpredictable behavior, such as handing out vegetables, mashed potatoes, and cinnamon toast to fans at shows, or doing headstands on stage.
A Brief but Memorable Tenure with Pavement
Young’s tenure with Pavement was short-lived, as he left the band in 1993 due to creative and personal differences with the other members. He was replaced by Steve West, who remained with Pavement until their hiatus in 1999. Young later released some solo albums under the name Gary Young’s Hospital, and continued to run his studio in Stockton.
Young reunited with Pavement for two shows in 2010, as part of their 20th anniversary tour. He also produced two tracks for their final EP, Major Leagues, in 1999. Earlier this year, a documentary about Young’s life and career, titled Louder Than You Think, premiered at SXSW and won an audience award. The film featured interviews with Young and his former bandmates, as well as footage from his studio and live performances.
Tributes from Fans and Peers
Young’s death was confirmed by his wife, Geri Bernstein Young, and by his former bandmate Stephen Malkmus, who posted a tribute on X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday. “Gary Young passed on today,” Malkmus wrote. “Gary’s pavement drums were ‘one take and hit record’…. Nailed it so well.” The official Pavement Instagram account also shared Malkmus’ post to its story.
Many fans and peers also expressed their condolences and appreciation for Young’s work on social media. Some of them shared their favorite songs or memories of Young, while others praised his unique contribution to indie rock history. Young was widely respected and admired for his talent, creativity, and personality.