Gary Young, Original Pavement Drummer, Dies at 70

Gary Young, the original drummer of ’90s indie rockers Pavement, has died at age 70.

“Gary Young passed on today,” Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus posted Thursday (Aug. 17) on X (formerly Twitter). “Gary’s pavement drums were ‘one take and hit record’…. Nailed it so well. rip.”

Matador Records, which released Pavement’s beloved 1992 debut album Slanted and Enchanted, also paid tribute on X. “We were exceedingly lucky to know the amazing human, drummer, producer and solo artist Gary Young,” the independent label’s account shared along with a black-and-white photo of the artist. “Much love today to his family, friends and bandmates.”

Young was born in Mamaroneck, New York, in May 1953 and started his music career in Stockton, Calif., in the 1980s by booking acts to play the area. Malkmus co-founded Pavement with guitarist Scott Kannberg in Stockton in the late ’80s and the band released its debut EP, Slay Tracks (1933-1969) — recorded at Young’s Louder Than You Think Studio — in January 1989. After two more EP releases in 1990 and 1991, Pavement dropped their first full-length, Slanted and Enchanted, in April 1992.

The seminal project — remembered as one of the most influential albums of the ’90s — peaked at No. 152 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2002 thanks to a 10th-anniversary reissue. In 2017, in recognition of the LP’s 25th anniversary, Billboard published an article with the headline: Pavement’s ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ Turns 25: Why the Smart-Ass, Slacker Masterpiece Is the Definitive Indie Rock Album.

Young was fired from Pavement in 1993 apparently after his antics on tour — largely fueled by a drinking problem, according to his bandmates — came to a boiling point. The drummer reunited with Pavement in 2010 for two shows.

He went on to release three projects with the band Gary Young’s Hospital between 1994 and 2004 and also put out the solo album Malfunction in 2016.

Find tributes to Young from friends and admirers below: