RIP Alan Vega of Suicide

If you’re into the history of electronic music and /or the left-of-centre material that came out of New York in the middle 70s, you’ll be aware of Suicide. They weren’t musically punk–at least not in the Ramones/Talking Heads/Blondie sense–but in terms of attitude and aesthetics, they were very much part of the scene.

Suicide was formed by Alan Vega and Martin Rev back in 1970, determined to make sounds and to project an attitude no one had ever seen before and soon became friends with proto-punk pioneers like Iggy Pop and the New York Dolls. On a tour of the UK, they support the Clash (someone threw an axe at them in Glasgow, but never mind.) Even Springsteen was a fan. He once performed this song as an encore.

If you had to compare them to someone else, let’s go with “punk Kraftwerk”–the same desire to experiment with electronics but with an in-your-face attitude.  Their 1977 self-titled debut album is definitely worth exploring.

Sadly, Alan Vega died this weekend at age 78. Here’s the statement from the family.

With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away.

Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age.

Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970’s, they formed the two person avant band known as Suicide. Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light-years before Punk Rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music.

Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.

One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.

Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth—this was Alan Vega.

Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever.

(Via Billboard)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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