Legendary band’s guitarist dies of heart failure at 61.
Here’s what I remember: I was 11 years-old and obsessed with Saturday Night Live, though 90 percent of the jokes flew over my head. Fred Willard from Fernwood Tonight, another show that I was too young to understand but watched religiously anyway, was hosting.
I don’t remember any of the sketches from that episode. There was probably a Samurai something sketch, maybe a Coneheads or a cheeboyga cheeboyga cheeboyga or Roseanne Roseanna Danna. But the musical guest, man, these guys were outrageous. They were like art and comedy and the future all rolled up into one.
That was my introduction to Devo.
I was an immediate convert from the moment I heard “Jocko Homo” (see above), which typifies the vibe that most people associate with Devo. But they were so much more than that. They could rock, and Bob Casale was a major factor in that. Check out him and the other Devo Bob (Mothersbaugh, lead guitar) on “Uncontrollable Urge” from the classic Urgh! A Music War:
That remains my favorite flavor of Devo—the harder, driving cuts. Not that there’s anything wrong with “Whip It” or “Working in a Coalmine,” I love those songs, too, but when the Bobs got to open up and rock those were my favorite moments. Or check out the clean, reverb-soaked surf vibe of “Gut Feeling”:
And it isn’t just me. Devo was a cultural phenomenon, in a strange way kind of the thinking man’s KISS, a band with an identity so strong that they were often emulated. From The Revenge of the Nerds to costume parties, Devo became a visual shorthand for new wave.
I’m going to have to get used to this. My generation’s music heroes are getting older, so losing them is becoming more common. That doesn’t make it any easier, though. Rest in peace, Bob, and thanks for all the music.
Below, some tributes and tweets from Devo bandmates and fans.
One of the most solid friends & bandmates I’ve ever had. RIP Bob Casale. I’m going to miss the hell… http://t.co/LMUzk4Wqr1
— Jeff Friedl (@JeffFriedl) February 18, 2014
I mean, seriously, is there anybody who ISN’T a Devo fan? #RIP Bob Casale
— John P. Strohm (@johnpstrohm) February 18, 2014
Stunned to learn of @DEVO‘s Bob Casale’s death. We’ve lost another legend. RIP Mr. Casale, and thanks for everything.
— Nik Havert (@NikHavert) February 18, 2014