Alan Vega of Suicide Dead at 78
Henry Rollins broke the sad news by posting an official statement from Vega's family on his website. You can read the full text below. In addition, musicians such as Billy Idol and Portishead's Geoff Barrow have posted their tributes to Vega on social media.
Suicide, who Dangerous Minds lovingly labeled "the band that will always sound like the future," was formed in 1970 by Vega and Martin Rev. They used primitive drum machines and electronic instruments to create music that is credited as a large influence on future genres such as industrial, techno, electronic, and ambient, and were reportedly among the first to refer to their music as "punk rock" in their concert ads.
Their self-titled 1977 debut has been labeled one of the greatest albums of the '70s by Pitchfork, one of the 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone, and is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The group released four more studio albums over their sporadic four-decade career, the most recent being 2002's American Supreme.
Bands as diverse as LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., the Savages, Neneh Cherry and the Horrors have covered or sampled Suicide's music. Most recently, Bruce Springsteen covered the band's 1979 single "Dream Baby Dream" both in concert and on his 2014 album High Hopes.
Vega also released a dozen solo albums, the most recent being 2010's Sniper. Bad knees and a 2012 stroke caused him to shift his creative energies away from music and into painting in recent years, although earlier this year he contributed vocals to the song "Tangerine" by French singer Christophe.
Here is the official statement from Alan Vega's 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.
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