Founding member of Akron, Ohio new wave/electronic band Devo, Bob Casale, passed away on the 17th February 2014 after suffering heart failure.
Although the band existed in an embryonic form as early as 1972, by the end of the decade, Devo emerged as a jerky new-wave band, their radiation suits, bizarre headgear and messages of “de-evolution” struck a chord with those looking for something alternative to the crashy three-chord music at the time. Although the sharp edges were punk in spirit, the electronic elements owed more to Eno-esque experimentation and the burgeoning synth-pop than it did to any other US bands of the age. Despite a career spawning many albums, Devo are likely to most fondly remembered by their debut ‘Q: Are We Not Men?’ A: No We Are Devo!’, which featured a erratic reworking of the Rolling Stones classic ‘Satisfaction’ and for the 1980 US hit ‘Whip It’.
Musically, Devo inspired many – their legacy most obvious in Danny Elfman’s Oingo Boingo – but their sense of vision, stagecraft and general presence were unique. Bob Casale was an important part of their grand vision and surrealist humour. He will never be replaced.
Casale’s lasting impression on the world of cult music is best experienced by watching and hearing Devo at work. The video below features rare footage from the band’s breakthrough period.