You Say Party, We Say Die! drummer Devon Clifford dead after concert

DEVON CLIFFORD 1979 – 2010 R.I.P.

As the news continues to spread, we realize many of you are already aware of the recent passing of Devon Clifford, drummer of Canadian five-piece You Say Party! We Say Die! For those who haven’t yet heard, it is with the heaviest of hearts to inform you of this sudden and tragic loss of a truly wonderful, vivid, talented and passionate young man whom we had the sincere pleasure of knowing and working with.

Our hearts are with Devon’s family and friends, and the remaining members of the band.

The Clifford Family Issued the following statement regarding the passing of Devon Clifford:
“YSPWSD’s Devon Clifford experienced a massive brain hemorrhage resulting from congenital defects while on stage in Vancouver on Friday night and fell into a coma. A surgery was performed but sadly doctors were unable to save his life. He was 30.

Devon Clifford was an extremely gifted drummer and determined character. He loved his family, loved his band, loved traveling, loved being on stage and loved meeting people around the world. He was smart, witty, passionate, and music meant everything to him. He was also incredibly generous with his love and respected everybody he came into contact with. This was underlined by his work with the under privileged at the Portland Hotel Society.

The Clifford family would like to take this opportunity to remind young people to have the courage to follow their dreams like Devon did.

The family would also like to take this opportunity to thank everybody around the world for their kind words and stories about how Devon impacted their lives.”

More information on Devon Clifford, read this recent article published for the Vancouver Sun.

“VANCOUVER — Devon Clifford never really liked structure, much to his parents’ dismay.

The drummer for Vancouver dance-rock band You Say Party! We Say Die! had always been the odd one in his family — a bright, fun-loving jokester who wanted to make as much noise as possible.

Not surprisingly, Clifford’s tendency to stay off the beaten path always clashed with father Ron and mother Edna’s lifestyle as teachers, but that never stopped him from reaching for his dream, and it didn’t stop his parents from embracing Clifford’s own choices.

“Devon was the unstructured one in our group,” Ron Clifford said via phone from the family residence in Abbotsford, B.C. “He had the determination that both Edna and I had. He had the drive and determination to be in a band, play the drums and follow what he loved. He was free to do that and we were so proud of him for taking that road that some of us wish we had the courage to take. He was lucky enough to meet another family in the music world. That road meant the world to him.”

Clifford’s passing after collapsing onstage during a concert at Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre last Friday shocked fans and the local music community.

Clifford was rushed to hospital where doctors found he had been living with an undiagnosed cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a congenital birth defect that caused massive bleeding in his brain. Doctors worked through the night to stop the bleeding, but Clifford did not survive.

He would have celebrated his 31st birthday this Friday.

“We never knew about [the AVM] until it happened,” Edna Clifford said on the phone. “We saw him on Tuesday and he had just come back from a long tour and he said he was tired, but he would be tired because he just got back. I don’t know. The doctors said there’s nothing we could have done.

“They worked really hard on Devon, they really tried to save him,” she added, her voice swelling with emotion. “They couldn’t. It was just something he was born with.”

For the band, losing Clifford meant much more than simply losing a friend.

“He was my brother,” singer Becky Ninkovic said tearfully over the phone. “He brought us so much laughter. He was the most intelligent and hilarious person. He was always able to make people laugh no matter what was going on. And he was a drummer through and through.”

Before Friday’s concert, You Say Party! We Say Die! had been touring extensively supporting their latest release, XXXX, and were gearing up for European tour dates to happen over the summer.

Having performed recently at Austin’s South by Southwest festival and with a growing fan base in the U.S. and Europe, the band approached their homecoming concert Friday night buoyed by a sense of building momentum.

“There was a real calm over the band before the performance,” bassist Stephen O’Shea said. “The girls were warming up their vocals and they always do Cloudbusting by Kate Bush — ‘I just know that something good is gonna happen/And I don’t know when/But saying it might even make it happen.’ It was always a positive and inspiring piece for the girls to sing before we went onstage.

“Usually, Derek [Adam, guitar], Devon and I would just mill about or leave. We all stayed in the room this time and listened,” he added. “We enjoyed it for what it was. Then we had a long band huddle and gave each other a big hug, and then we lifted our fists in the centre of the circle and looked around at each other and smiled. That was a very special moment I’ll always hold on to because we usually don’t take as much time as we did.”

Later, midway through a song during the band’s set, Clifford suddenly collapsed onto his drum kit. When his distress became evident, Ninkovic asked the crowd to call an ambulance.

“When he was being helped by the paramedics, Becky was holding his head and the last thing that Devon was asking for was, ‘Where’s the rest of the band?’” O’Shea said, his voice breaking. “He just cared about us so much. He just wanted us to be surrounding him.”

Clifford was born to play the drums.

His mother recalled her son trying to learn the piano at a young age, then switching to the bagpipes, which he played for five years, and then falling in love with banging on the skins as loud as he could. After graduating from W.J. Mouat secondary school in Abbotsford, Clifford’s life would be dedicated to the sticks.

“We always joked that his instruments got louder and louder,” his mother said. “It was a good release for him because he always had a lot of nervous energy. And he loved it. Once he chose that path, he just put the blinders on. His goal was just to be the best drummer, and he worked and worked at that.”

Clifford was also a sharp writer and a fierce comic. He loved to laugh and loved to tell jokes, but he was always very kind and gentle, his mother said.

“Devon Clifford was indeed one of the funniest people I knew,” said Trevor Larocque of Paper Bag Records, the band’s label. “His confidence and honesty were something I admired and I’m sure many of those who met him shared this feeling.

“The music community lost a very special human being, loved by so many people around the world, and I will miss him tremendously.”

A dedicated humanitarian, Clifford worked with the Portland Hotel Society to help individuals in Vancouver’s troubled Downtown Eastside.

But of all people, none mattered more than his little sister Estee and his older brother James, who has Down syndrome.

“Devon was always the one to protect him and he was his best friend,” Edna Clifford said. “Same with Estee — she was his sister and he bugged her, but at the same time he was so proud of her.

“We want to say to musicians and parents, ‘Even though your child has chosen a path that you might not have wanted him to or know will be a hard one for them, if they need that in their life, then let them follow their passion and encourage them and support them as best you can. Devon was really satisfied with his music. It was all about him, his band and their fans.”

A service will be held on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Cascade Community Church in Abbotsford.”

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