Howie Pyro, the co-founding bassist of New York punk band D Generation and an established DJ, has died at the age of 61.
Pyro passed away from COVID-related pneumonia after a long battle with liver disease. The bassist had undergone a liver transplant last year and had been recovering in a Los Angeles hospital.
D Generation’s Jesse Malin confirmed Pyro’s death in a heartfelt Facebook post: “This is the hardest post I have ever had to write. Howie Pyro, my best friend and brother has passed away. He fought real hard right till the end. He changed my life and so many others in ways I can’t even begin to say. We made our world together. From Whitestone, Queens to Madison Square Garden and every crazy, dirty little place in between. I learned so much from him. He made this planet a much better, cooler, weirder, and more beautiful place.”
Pyro was born Howard Kusten and grew up in Queens, New York. At age 15, he changed his name to Howie Pyro and formed a punk band called The Blessed, brushing shoulders with luminaries such as Deborah Harry and Sid Vicious.
He would eventually help form the vintage-inspired punk act D Generation in the early 1990s and recorded three albums with the group before relocating to Los Angeles in 2000, when his DJ career took off. Pyro landed gigs DJing everything from hotel residencies to Christina Aguilera’s wedding.
Malin added, “For decades he impacted so many different kinds of people and so many different scenes all over with his style, his taste, his music, his knowledge, his Art, his fashion, his attitude, his humor, his records, his movies, his bravery, his swagger, his smile, his heart, and his compassion.”
Earlier this year, Malin organized a pair of benefit concerts for Pyro with members of D Generation, Rival Sons — with whom Pyro toured as a DJ — the Lunachicks, and L7.
“Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket, a shirt, donated, said a prayer, or sent a message to help him out,” Malin wrote. “He really got to see the love in a huge way from all of you and it meant so much to him. His importance and impact will never, ever be forgotten. I will love you forever my Dear Doctor Howard.”
Pyro’s family is asking those who wish to pay tribute to him should consider donating to the UCLA Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation.
Below you can read Malin’s full Facebook post.