D Generation bassist and longtime New York rock personality Howie Pyro died yesterday (May 4) due to complications from COVID-19-related pneumonia, following a long struggle with liver disease that necessitated a transplant. The musician, whose real name was Howard Kusten, was 61.
Pyro began playing in bands such as The Blessed as a teenager at storied New York venues such as CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. In the early ‘90s, he was a co-founding member of punk band D Generation, and later co-founded the beloved East Village rock club Coney Island High with bandmate Jesse Malin.
Pyro was also a longtime DJ at New York parties such as Greendoor and hosted his own online radio show, Intoxica! Radio, where he played early rock’n’roll from the 1950s and ‘60s. Beyond his work in D Generation, he recorded and performed with artists such as Joey Ramone, Danzig, Ronnie Spector, Debbie Harry, Alan Vega, Genesis P-Orridge, Rancid and Johnny Thunders.
“We made our world together,” Malin wrote of Pyro on Instagram. “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. 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.”
Pyro’s surviving family is asking donations be made in his name to the UCLA Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation. Memorial service details are forthcoming.