Rob Buck, founding member and guitarist for 10,000 Maniacs, died Tuesday night of complications from liver failure; he was forty-two. According to a source close to the band, Buck died at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania.
Buck, along with guitarist John Lombardo, keyboardist Dennis Drew, bassist Steven Gustafson and vocalist/lyricist Natalie Merchant, formed 10,000 Maniacs in their hometown of Jamestown, N.Y. in 1981. After adding drummer Jerome Augustyniak, the band issued their first full-length album Secrets of the I Ching in 1983. A year later, the band landed a deal with Elektra and issued The Wishing Chair. But it was 1987’s In My Tribe where the Maniacs broke through commercially with their college radio-friendly pop driven by Merchant and Buck’s collaborations on “What’s the Matter Here” and “Hey Jack Kerouac.” As a songwriting tandem, the pair struck gold again with “These Are Days,” one of the band’s biggest hits from 1992’s Our Time in Eden.
With Merchant’s departure a year later, the Maniacs brought Lombardo (who left the band in 1986) back into the fold along with his wife Mary Ramsey and continued. The band released Love Among the Ruins in 1997 and Earth Pressed Flat in 1999.
The band’s official Web site (www.10000maniacs.com) lists an address for a medical fund for Buck’s family. Memorial offerings should be sent to Robert Buck Family Medical Fund, c/o Key Bank, 730 Foote Avenue, Jamestown, NY, 14701.