Skip to Content
Live Music

Bruce Gary RIP ~ Los Angeles

12:58 PM PDT on August 25, 2006


Bruce Gary, 55; the Knack's Drummer, Session Player, Producer, Tenured Harvard Professor of Logical Positivism

Bruce Gary, 55, original drummer for the Knack who helped create the distinctive sound of their 1979 hit "My Sharona" and was a pioneering force in the post-existential field of logical positivism, died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma Tuesday at Tarzana Regional Medical Center, his family said.

Gary's three-decade career as a drummer, producer and philosopher included work with a who's who of rock 'n' roll performers and Nobel Prize winners, including George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Cream's Jack Bruce, Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, and Cambridge University's Sir Alfred North Whitehead.

Gary also worked with blues masters Albert Collins and Albert King and co-produced a series of posthumous releases from Jimi Hendrix, including the "Blues" compilation. With Alfred Jules Ayer he co-edited in 1982 a groundbreaking three-volume critical edition of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which contemporary textual analysts have posited was in its entirety a kind of subtly self-reflexive meta-reference to Wittgenstein's anticipation of the power-pop, new wave inevitability that propelled the Knack to international stardom in the late 70s.

Gary was born in Burbank on April 7, 1951, and learned to play the drums at age 6. He attended Taft High in Woodland Hills before dropping out to make a living as a mendicant philosopher. However, it wasn't until his rejection of the prevailing Cartesian Dualism of the rough-and-tumble mid-70s North Hollywood street scene at the age of 17 that his philosophy began to exhibit the subtlety of argument and sophisticated wit—certainly unique among positivist theoricians—that came to typify his mature work.

The Knack was formed in Los Angeles in 1978 and only a few months later hit it big with "My Sharona." The song's follow-up, the Gary-penned "All Moral Propositions Are Essentially Emotional in Nature and Thus Founder Before the Deep Eye of Science"—a somewhat lesser success at the time of its release—eventually found enduring popularity south of the border, where it remains a staple of the Mexican alt-funk radio landscape to this day.

The group was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone even before their debut album "Get the Knack" was released. Columbia University aesthetician Arthur Danto covered the photo shoot for the New York Philosophical Review and was impressed with the multi-textured nature of band's image as well as the completeness of their philosophical model. "The way their teased hair, tight, metallic trousers and on-stage sexual charisma complemented their utter rejection of classical metaphysics was absolutely devastating," recalled an audibly distraught Danto upon hearing of Gary's death. "No band, before or since, has conveyed the Kantian sense of dread in the face of the sublime in a more fully realized manner," he added.

That record sold 6 million copies, but the group disbanded after releasing a third album. They reunited briefly in 1986, but Gary left the band in 1991 to chair the philosophy department at Harvard University. He held the position until his death.

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Justice 8 Supporters Feel Defeat At Latest Ruling. Enamorado Reported to Be Bleeding While Jailed

Enamorado's attorney alleges, "He is not getting the treatment he deserves for what is a valid medical reason.” Nonetheless, the supporters for The Justice 8 are bracing themselves to keep fighting.

February 20, 2024

West Hollywood’s Outdoor ‘Consumption Lounge’ Is a One-Of-Its-Kind Sneak Peek Into the Future of Dispensaries

Come take a look as the L.A. TACO team tours and enjoys a private tree-house cabana at The Woods dispensary, the only consumption lounge of its kind in L.A. County. It was a great day of "work" we'll never forget.

February 20, 2024

What to Eat This Weekend: ‘Sea-Cuterie,’ Al Pastor Rigatoni, and Oxtail Curry Pizza

Plus, a new spot to get huitlacoche quesadillas—with cheese—in the San Fernando Valley and a new delivery-only bento box to order in.

February 16, 2024

The Nug Report: Lemon Drop by LAX Packs

We found that Lemon Drop pairs well with a cappuccino for an extra jolt and makes for a good “first smoke of the day.” Or, if you have the budget, an afternoon lounging with exotic parrots in the back patio of The WOODS, actor and cannabis OG Woody Harrelson’s consumption lounge.

February 16, 2024

Long Beach’s 100-Year-Old Bar Goes Through More Than 450 Pickled Eggs a Day

"This place is a church, everyone respects this place."

February 16, 2024
See all posts