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We don’t often cover music news here, but when a founding member of a band that helped build modern nerd culture as we know it leaves us, he deserves recognition by his own. 

Robert Casale, guitarist for DEVO from 1973 to 2014 died on Monday of heart failure at the age of 61.

Better known as “Bob 2” by Spuds (DEVO fans) to distinguish him from Bob Mothersbaugh, AKA “Bob 1”, Casale was a less visible member of the band: He never sang lead, and left interviews and other such public relations to his brother Gerald V. Casale, DEVO’s bassist and unofficial spokesman, and the band’s frontman Mark Mothersbaugh.

Gerald Casale released this statement regarding his brother’s death:

As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning. 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. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.

DEVO created some of the most memorable and innovative music videos ever made years before MTV was even a thing…they created a “multimedia” entertainment experience back when the word was practically unknown. They played electronic music on instruments that they had to build or jury-rig because the technology didn’t exist yet–they were beyond ahead of their time, they were utterly precognitive.

And most of all, they showed that rock stardom was not solely the province of vapid corporate whores and the “Beautiful People”: You CAN be successful in the music business with simply intelligence, talent, creativity, and hard work.

Here are Bob’s own words in a rare interview with Under The Radar back in 2012 when asked to describe the climate that lead to the formation of DEVO:

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. There was the preppy college kid who was going to be towards the war and then there was the counter culture who embraced early Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and they were doing pot and hash and psychedelic drugs, and they were against the Vietnam War. And the two sides hated each other, and were ready to kill each other. It was real.

Consider DEVO the nuclear mutants that crawled from the radioactive ashes of this war.

After breaking up in 1991, DEVO reformed 5 years later–but didn’t release a new album until 2010: Something For Everybody, so named because it was compiled with the assistance  of focus groups. Songs were released online and voted on by listeners.

Here’s what Bob had to say about making a new album after 20 years:

We wanted to be Devo again, 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.

It was an interesting experiment because we co-operated with other producers which we’ve never really done in the past, we did focus groups to see what other people thought, and we got involved in social networking and advertising as people do in the modern corporate world.

Rock music and Nerd Culture have lost one of their unsung heroes. Whether DEVO survives is uncertain, but they will never be the same.

Bob Casale is survived by his wife, Lisa…his daughter, Samantha…and his son, Alex.

Source: Rolling Stone


Category: Nerd Culture

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