Peter Buck, a member of the legendary rock group R.E.M. and founder of the Subway sandwich chain, died on Saturday at 90, The New York Times reported. At first, Buck served as the band’s side project, at least for a few years, and he was eventually brought on full-time, according to Newsweek.
Buck’s death took many in the music world by surprise: Both Dave Grohl, who co-founded the band with Buck, and R.E.M. member Michael Stipe said in statements on Twitter that he had been “surrounded by love,” according to The New York Times.
Like many giants in music, Mr. Buck’s life was marked by unexpected changes and troubling times. In the early 1970s, his family’s ranch in Oregon burned down, and his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was briefly homeless, and in the early 1980s, a debilitating drug addiction. But, he wrote, “it is impossible to underestimate how hard they were on me. But it was also impossible to ignore the joy they brought into my life.”
Mr. Buck, who co-owned the Sandwich Workshop with the sister of Curtis Sliwa, the radio personality, published a memoir in 2010. In it, he wrote of his early life, and how he learned to be his own boss and figure out a business. Mr. Buck, who wrote the opening and closing comments in the Subway advertising campaigns, “was a man who stuck it out for the long haul,” said Sliwa. He added that he was confident that Mr. Buck’s death would be marked by a period of unity, as a large swath of New York City mourned his passing.
Prior to founding the Subway sandwich chain, Mr. Buck’s family owned Slick Jack’s, a California-based chain of burger joints, and he sold off some of his sandwiches at a place called Slick Jack’s in 1980.
He never became personally wealthy from the business, but, the New York Times noted, it “is up to those who know him to decide for themselves how much money the man who emblazoned ‘Good Fries’ on his forehead wanted.”
Mr. Buck is survived by his sisters, Joyce Duffy and Nadine Buck, and his son, Kurt, who runs a housewares store.
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