Gary Young, original Pavement drummer, dies aged 70

Pavement drummer Gary Young in the documentary ‘Louder Than You Think' (HWY99 Filmworks)
Pavement drummer Gary Young in the documentary ‘Louder Than You Think' (HWY99 Filmworks)

Gary Young, the original drummer for the band Pavement, has died at the age of 70.

The news was announced on social media by the American rock group’s frontman Stephen Malkmus.

“Gary Young passed on today,” he wrote on social media site X late on Thursday 17 August. “Gary’s pavement drums were ‘one take and hit record’…. Nailed it so well. rip.”

Record label Matador Records, which released the band’s 1992 debut album Slanted and Enchanted, also shared a social media tribute.

“We were exceedingly lucky to know the amazing human, drummer, producer and solo artist Gary Young,” wrote the label. “Much love today to his family, friends and bandmates.”

Young, a New York native and former hippie, began drumming for punk bands in the 1980s and working as a talent booker.

Pavement started out as the brainchild of guitarist-vocalists Malkmus and Scott Kannberg. The duo were recording a session at Young’s home studio Louder Than You Think, which Young was producing, when he offered to drum for them.

The 1989 session would yield the group’s debut EP, Slay Tracks: 1933–1969.

After Slay Tracks’s success, Jason Fawkes was brought in as the band’s new drummer, though a reported dispute with Malkmus led to Young being brought back on to produce and drum for their next two EPs, Demolition Plot J-7 (1990) and Perfect Sound Forever (1991).

It was Slanted and Enchanted that solidified the band’s reputation, however. Pavement’s debut album is considered by many to be a classic of the alt-rock genre, and Young’s distinctive drumming was praised.

By the time of Slanted and Enchanted, the band had embraced the touring circuit, though Young’s outrageous mid-gig antics had started to earn him a reputation.

The drummer was said to have served food to concertgoers and greeted them at the door, performed onstage headstands during other bandmembers’ songs, and run around the venue.

His behaviour was fuelled by an alcohol abuse problem; Young would later become sober in 1998.

Young left Pavement in 1992; his final release as the band’s drummer was the EP Watery, Domestic, though he would produce two tracks on their 1999 EP Major Leagues.

After leaving the band, Young would continue to play music, releasing three albums with his own group Gary Young’s Hospital (in 1994, 1999 and 2004) and a solo record in 2016 (Malfunction).

He was also a noteworthy technician, and is credited with developing and hand-crafting the Universal Shock Mount for microphones.

Young rejoined his former Pavement bandmates in 2010 for a reunion gig in his hometown of Stockton.

His life is the subject of the recent documentary Louder Than You Think.

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, you can confidentially call the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or visit the NHS website here for information about the programmes available to you.