Bob Casale, one of the original members of the US new wave band Devo has died, aged 61. His brother and Devo bandmate Gerald Casale announced Tuesday the guitarist, who played with Devo since they formed in 1973 all the way to their most recent tours, died suddenly on February 17th of heart failure.
Gerald Casale described Bob Casale’s death as a “total shock” on the band’s website. “As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning,” he wrote. “He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got.”
“He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again,” Gerald Casale added in his brother’s death announcement. “His sudden death from conditions that led to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.”
According to Rolling Stone, though he often ceded the spotlight to his brother Gerald and Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Casale played on every single Devo album and was instrumental in their production. He was known to fans as Bob 2, since he played alongside guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh, the brother of Devo co-founder Mark.
Mark Mothersbaugh issued a statement Tuesday saying he was “shocked and saddened” by Casale’s death. They worked closely together for 40 years in the band and at Mothersbaugh’s production company Mutato, where they scored soundtracks for a string of big and small screen projects. “Bob was instrumental in creating the sound of projects as varied as Rugrats and Wes Anderson‘s films. He was a great friend. I will miss him greatly,” he said.
The new-wave band, whose name is a contraction of “de-evolution,” was formed in the early seventies, after Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh met as art students at Kent State University. CNN reports, Devo wrote its first music in May 1970, the same month as the Kent State massacre, where US National Guard troops fired on antiwar protesters on the Kent State campus, killing four students.
“We came of age in the middle of a huge cultural war. This country was basically in the midst of a new civil war — the lines were drawn very clearly,” Bob Casale said in a 2012 interview with Under the Radar (via Rolling Stone). “[We formed the band because] it was a more immediate way of self-expression that required less money and no outside permission.
Devo have toured steadily over the past two decades, having released Something for Everybody in 2010, their first album in 20 years. Said Bob Casale of the record, “We wanted to be Devo again.” He is survived by his son, Alex, his daughter, Samantha, and his wife, Lisa. Devo drummer Alan Myers, who was with the group from 1976 to 1986, died last year.
Watch: Devo – Girl U Want (Video)