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Devon Clifford, far right, was the drummer for Vancouver band You Say Party! We Say Die!
Devon Clifford, far right, was the drummer for Vancouver band You Say Party! We Say Die!

Arts: Music

Drummer of YSP! WSD! apparently suffered brain aneurysm Add to ...

To fans, Devon Clifford,  the young musician who died after collapsing on stage this weekend, was a talented drummer whose beat helped drive the band You Say Party! We Say Die! to new heights of popularity.

But to those who worked with him on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, where he cared for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country, he was a gentle soul who tried to make the world a better place.

"He was a really sweet guy," Mark Townsend, Executive Director of the Portland Hotel Society, said yesterday. "He was really well loved in the family of staff here. He was a kind person."

Townsend said the 31-year-old musician's sudden death, from an apparent brain aneurysm which hit during the opening set at the Rickshaw Theatre, was "just devastating" to his family, friends and work colleagues.

When he wasn't  with his band, which was just ending a successful North American tour and was scheduled to head for Europe next week, Clifford worked in emergency shelters for the homeless.

"He was right on the front line," said Townsend. "He was faced with difficult situations dealing with hospitals, ambulances and police, all while trying find people housing."

For the past three months, however, Clifford had been focusing on You Say Party! We Say Die! which was winning high praise for its most recent CD, XXXX.

Howard Redekopp, music producer, engineer and mixer on XXXX, said Clifford collapsed when the band was about six songs into its set, on the stage at the Rickshaw Theatre, on East Hastings Street.

He said the death was a staggering blow to the band and to Clifford's friends and family.

"As a band they were going through a period of healing some inner conflict ... and he had really played an important role in that," he said.

Redekopp said the band was just wrapping a tour that took them from Vancouver to San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Toronto and back to Vancouver - and they were gearing up for a tour of Europe.

He said he didn't know what the band would do now.

"This is really hard for them," he said. "I don't know [about the tour] They aren't even thinking about that. Right now they just want to deal with the loss of a friend."


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