In Memoriam: Howie Pyro
D-Generation and Danzig bassist Howie Pyro, aka Howard Kusten, has died following complications from COVID-19. He was 61 years old. The news was shared by his bandmate Jesse Malin on Instagram.
“This is the hardest post I have ever had to write. Howie Pyro, my best friend and brother, has passed away,” he wrote. “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. 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 grew up in Queens, New York and took his stage name in 1975. It was during that time that he founded the underage punk band The Blessed, who stayed on the NYC punk scene the ’70s and opened for bands like The Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Pyro befriended Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and was one of the last to see him before his fatal overdose.
The bassist also founded the Freaks and later D Generation. Pyro joined Danzig from 2000 to 2003 and appears on Live on the Black Hand Side and I Luciferi. Aside from his bass work, he became a prolific DJ and created the internet radio show “Intoxica Radio with Howie Pyro”.
It was announced in December 2021 that Pyro was ill and recovering from a liver transplant, although it was ultimately COVID-related pneumonia that took his life. Pyro’s family is asking for donations to be made in his memory to the UCLA Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Howie Pyro.