Grant Hart, a drummer, vocalist and songwriter for the influential Minnesota rock band Hüsker Dü, died on Wednesday. He was 56.
The band’s publicist, Ken Weinstein, said the cause was cancer.
Hüsker Dü was formed by Mr. Hart, the guitarist and singer Bob Mould and the bassist Greg Norton in the late 1970s in St. Paul. It soon became known for high-volume blasts of heart-quickening rock that could not quite disguise the hooks buried beneath the noise.
An early member of the hardcore movement, Hüsker Dü was a prolific presence in the 1980s, releasing six albums in fewer than six years. The band’s 1984 double album, “Zen Arcade,” was lauded by Robert Palmer of The New York Times, who said it might be the best record “to have emerged from the hardcore scene.”
Challenging punk orthodoxy with experimental takes on the genre and ambitious narrative elements, “Zen Arcade” introduced the band to a wider audience and reimagined the boundaries of hardcore.
Mr. Hart and Mr. Mould met in a record store in 1978 and soon began to play together, along with Mr. Norton, whom Mr. Mould had known previously. The group bonded over their love of significant punk bands of the decade, including the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.
Though Mr. Hart was bisexual and Mr. Mould was gay, their sexual orientation was not a major part of the band’s identity.
“Really, it didn’t define much about the band,” Mr. Hart told the website The A.V. Club in 2000. “If anything, it would have been just another question mark, because we were so unlike the stereotype du jour.”
Mr. Hart and Mr. Mould, both independent-minded musicians, frequently clashed over the band’s direction — both were songwriters — and the group’s contentious breakup, late in 1987, came in the wake of substance-abuse accusations.
“I didn’t enjoy playing hardcore,” Mr. Hart said in the A.V. Club interview. “At the time, while I was drummer for Hüsker Dü even though I played other instruments, it was just such a damn boring job for a drummer.”
He said that even as he began to infuse the band’s albums with more of his ideas, Mr. Mould pushed back in what Mr. Hart characterized as a “showdown,” saying that the group would never be an even split in terms of their ideas.
Mr. Mould said in a Facebook post that Mr. Hart’s death was not unexpected, and he acknowledged their occasional differences.
“We (almost) always agreed on how to present our collective work to the world,” Mr. Mould wrote. “When we fought about the details, it was because we both cared.”
Mr. Hart’s contributions as drummer were not as visible as those of Mr. Mould, the more obvious bandleader. But Mr. Hart had plenty of devotees, as evidenced by the song the Washington band the Posies wrote and dedicated to him.
Mr. Hart wrote two songs released as singles from the band’s major-label debut album, “Candy Apple Grey” (1986) — “Sorry Somehow” and “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely” — as well as two of the band’s most beloved tracks on “Zen Arcade”: “Turn on the News” and “Pink Turns to Blue.”
Ken Shipley, an owner of the reissue label the Numero Group, which is releasing a boxed set of early Hüsker Dü material in November, remembered Mr. Hart in a statement as “disarming and masterminding all at once.”
“Grant was tortured for sure, but he had a hell of a lot of fun bringing you in on the joke, even if you were part of the punch line,” he wrote.
Grantzberg Vernon Hart was born on March 18, 1961, and raised in St. Paul. He started playing music professionally at age 13 and had been in several bands before joining Hüsker Dü. After its breakup, he formed other bands and released his own music intermittently.
An accomplished visual artist who designed Hüsker Dü’s album art, Mr. Hart continued to draw and to read poetry in recent years.
He is survived by his wife, Brigid McGough, and a son, Karl.
Mr. Hart’s fourth and final solo album, “The Argument” (2013), was a much-praised testament to his ambition, drawing on William S. Burroughs’s unpublished adaptation of Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”
“Savage Young Dü,” the boxed set, is due to be released on Nov. 10.
“We pushed as hard as we could to get this beast into the wild, but it wasn’t hard enough,” Mr. Shipley wrote.