Legendary indie rock drummer Jerry Fuchs was known for hitting very very hard for the band !!! — but on Saturday night, music fans and performers across Williamsburg received a blow of a different kind after hearing that Fuchs died after falling down a Berry Street elevator shaft.
“He was universally adored and was irreplaceable as a friend and to the indie dance music scene,” said his roommate Alex Frankel.
Fuchs had just returned from a tour with the Georgia-based group Maserati and was headed to a midnight benefit show at the building between S. Fourth and S. Fifth streets when the elevator halted between the fourth and fifth floors.
After waiting for a while, another passenger successfully jumped down to the fourth floor. But when Fuchs tried the same exit, his hoodie got caught and he fell 50 feet.
Frankel — who had met Fuchs years earlier when both began working with the indie electronica label DFA — found his friend below the broken elevator. Fuchs was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where he was pronounced dead.
Friends mourned their pal, as fellow musicians said that the loss to the indie music scene was enormous. Fuchs, a 10-year Williamsburg resident, had played in well-known New York dance and indie outfits as the Juan Maclean, LCD Soundsystem, Turing Machine and !!! (pronounced chk, chk, chk). He was that rare electronica and dance music artist who actually made a name in that mostly anonymous world.
“I have never played with anyone as great as Jerry,” John MacLean, leader of the band The Juan MacLean, said in a statement.
Other musicians said that the percussionist’s precision — which preserved the rigidity and repetition of the dance music while lending it a warmth that could only be delivered by a live drummer — became vital to the very core sound of DFA Records.
“He recreated the things that people do in the studio because they think that people can’t do them,” said Nick Millhiser, who plays in The Juan MacLean and Holy Ghost!
Without Fuchs to provide the beat, Millhiser says that some of his bands may never recover.
“It’s an amazing testament to him how many bands will break up or suffer from his loss,” he said. “Drummers are often expendable in dance music, but Jerry was so unique that it’s hard to imagine going on without him.”
City records show that the converted loft building at 338 Berry St. has had many violations in the past years, including some pertaining to the elevator. The owners could not be reached.