Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller, 41, died Friday at his home in Minneapolis after suffering from throat cancer. Mueller had been battling cancer since May of 2004.
A Minneapolis benefit in his honor last October brought the long-estranged songwriting principles of Husker Du back together, and featured Twin Cities stalwarts such as Paul Westerberg, the Gear Daddies, Golden Smog and, with Mueller’s cancer temporarily in remission, Soul Asylum.
Mueller was a founding member of Soul Asylum and played in the group for over twenty years, along with singer/guitarists Dan Murphy and Dave Pirner. Formed in 1984, Soul Asylum evolved from Loud Fast Rules, which had begun in 1981 and included Meuller, Murphy and Pirner. After nearly a decade of much critical acclaim and little cash, Soul Asylum broke through in 1992 with Grave Dancers Union, a multiplatinum smash largely on the strength of single “Runaway Train.”
Prior to Mueller’s death, Soul Asylum had completed an album of new material, their first since 1998’s Candy from a Stranger. “We don’t know where or when we’re going to put this out,” said Pirner in 2001 of self-produced sessions in New Orleans and Minneapolis. “The stuff that’s finished is kind of a typical smattering of styles. Some of it is loud, fast and aggressive, and some of it is really introspective and sounds like I was born in a barn.”
The creative hiatus came partly because the same wave that helped break Soul Asylum had receded. “It’s sort of sad to say, but you could see the whole grunge rock band thing getting totally oversaturated and people were looking for something new,” Pirner told Rolling Stone in 2001. “We needed to reassess how far we’ve gone and how much further we’re going to go and which way we want to go and what we do right and what we do wrong. It was kind of time to take inventory.”
Mueller is survived by his wife Mary Beth and his mother Mary. A memorial service for Mueller will be held Wednesday at the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel in Minneapolis.