By Ryan Leach

Nick Sanderson, former drummer of Clock DVA and the Gun Club, passed away on Monday (June 9) of lung cancer. He was 47.

(Photo: Sanderson with Kid Congo Powers)

Born in England, Sanderson’s initial break came with his membership to Sheffield-based industrial band Clock DVA in 1983. Along with bassist Dean Dennis, Sanderson formed the rhythm section heard on the group’s major label debut, Advantage. After leaving Clock DVA in 1984, Sanderson (and Dennis) found work through (now-defunct) Statik Records, backing up ex-Gun Club figurehead Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Already a few months into a fledgling solo career, Pierce struck up an instant friendship with Sanderson; the two were huge history buffs and no strangers to enormous bar tabs. After a painfully long tour of the United States in the summer of 1985 (“It was Reagan’s time in America,” I remember Sanderson telling me in a phone interview, “and it was absolutely dreadful.”), Jeffrey Pierce decided to reform the Gun Club.

The Gun Club, “A House is not a Home” with Nick Sanderson

More after the jump.

This second version of the Gun Club — Jeffrey Pierce (guitar, vocals), Kid Congo Powers (guitar), Romi Mori (bass, vocals), and Nick Sanderson (drums)—recorded their comeback album Mother Juno (1987) in Berlin. Although attributed to the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie, the production of the record was largely handled by Pierce and Sanderson. Mother Juno is an amazing effort, capturing Pierce at his songwriting pinnacle and a band, backed by Sanderson’s hard-hitting, machine gun-like drumming, fully focused. Unfortunately, the Gun Club started hiccupping by 1990. Sanderson recorded two more albums with the Gun Club—1990’s Pastoral Hide and Seek and 1994’s Lucky Jim — before the group imploded. (After years of drinking and drug abuse, Jeffrey Lee Pierce passed away in 1996. He was 37.)

The Gun Club, “A House is Not a Home”

After the Gun Club, Sanderson sang for the group Earl Brutus. Nick’s last significant musical gig was drumming for Freeheat, a band comprised of Jim Reid (Jesus and Mary Chain) and Romi Mori. In the last few years of his life, Sanderson worked as a train conductor.

Nick is survived by Romi Mori, his partner of more than a decade, and a five-year-old son.

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