A member of one of the greatest cult rock acts of all time has left us.
Bob Casale, guitarist and founding member of Devo, passed away Monday at the age of 61. His brother, fellow band member bassist Gerald Casale, said the cause was “medical complications that led to heart failure. Gerald said Bob was recently hospitalized due to stomach ailments but was thought to be recovering.
“During testing, he de-stabilized. They were a little flummoxed,” Gerald said. “He was sitting up, talking and the next thing he was in an ER, life-and-death situation. His blood pressure dropped too low and they couldn’t stabilize it in time.”
“As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning,” Gerald said in a statement. “He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.”
Later in life Casale went to work for his fellow Devo bandmate Mark Mothersbaugh, who in 1989 established Mutato Muzika, a company that wrote music for film and television. Mothersbaugh had this to say on Casale’s passing.
“He not only was integral in Devo’s sound, he worked over 20 years at Mutato , collaborating with me on 60 or 70 films and television shows, not to mention countless commercials and many video games,” said Mothersbaugh. “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.”
The band is generally thought of as a one-hit wonder because of the song “Whip It.” However Devo became one of the greatest cult bands of all time and have a massive following to this day. Their use of electronic instruments, unique time signatures and deadpan lyrics influenced the 80’s new wave movement. According to the Los Angeles Times they “straddled the avant-garde and pop worlds with a twisted, technologically savvy take on rock ’n’ roll.” They broke in 1991 but reformed five years later. In 2010 they released their first album in 20 years “Something for Everybody.”
“We wanted to be Devo again,” Bob Casale said. “And so you can’t help but sound like Devo – we weren’t going to try and sound like anybody else, we were just going to do what we do and try and write good songs with the same kind of attention to lyrical content and song structure as we’ve always given all of our work.”