Bob Casale, the guitarist for New Wave hitmakers Devo, died yesterday (Feb. 17) at the age of 61. The news was broken by his older brother Gerald, who played bass and keyboards in the group.
The Casales formed Devo at Kent State University near Akron, Ohio around 1973 with the Mothersbaugh brothers (Mark, Jim and Bob — who was known as “Bob 1″ while Casale was “Bob 2.”) Jim Mothersbaugh left in 1976 and was replaced by Alan Myers, who died in June 2013.
Devo gained traction with the release of their 1978 debut, largely on the strength of a stilted, synthed-up take on the Rolling Stones‘ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’ which angered purists and delighted iconoclasts. Their image, which saw them perform in matching jumpsuits and terraced, plastic hats called “energy domes,” was an extension of their art school background.
While they only had one Top 20 hit, ‘Whip It,’ other songs like ‘Girl U Want,’ ‘Working in the Coal Mine’ and ‘Through Being Cool’ were modern rock and college radio staples for years. By the end of the ’80s, their commercial peak had been long in the distance and the group broke up.
Devo reunited in 1995, periodically recording one-off songs for soundtracks and touring. Their 2010 album ‘Something for Everybody’ was hailed as a solid return to form.
Mark Mothersbaugh told Cleveland.com that the news has understandably hit him hard. “This is so sudden and tragic… He was the nicest guy in the band. He had the best personality. He had the longest fuse. He was a problem solver.”
Gerald Casale wrote the following tribute to his sibling on the group’s Facebook page:
Very sad news to report today.
Bob Casale of Devo. Born: July 14th, 1952. Deceased: February 17th, 2014
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.
Gerald Casale, Devo founder.