Alan Vega of electro-punk band, Suicide, passed away peacefully in his sleep last night. Henry Rollins announced the news on his website this morning, along with an official statement from his family.
Vega, along with Suicide’s Martin Rev were unquestionably among the most important pioneers in the world of electronic music, and his loss is yet another tragedy for music in 2016.
Suicide first emerged as a rock band, before ditching the drums and guitar in favour of simple electronics. The pair used a $10 Japanese keyboard pumped through Electro Harmonix pedals on their self-titled album, going on to create a sound that would influence and inspire many. The heavily distorted, reverberating tones from Rev were the perfect cradle for Vega to lay his haunting snarls upon.
Rev and Vega managed to capture the urban lifestyle of New York with brutal honesty, and some audience members would famously walk out of their shows because of it. In the punk documentary Attitude, Arthur Kane reflects on Vega whipping out an eight foot chain at a show at CGBG. Though this encouraged most of the audience to leave, Kane, among other dedicated fans, remained. His relentless attitude towards society kept shining right until the end.
Vega introduced himself to the 80s with a bopping solo project. With its swinging rhythm and blatant homage to Elvis, it couldn’t be more different to Suicide.
While his music took a poppy turn, his punk attitude remained. In his final interview in 2015, Vega reflects on being called a “dinosaur band.” He described how he became “unleashed” and told the French journalist to “Get outside!”.
Suicide’s eerie rockabilly vocals and throbbing synthesisers influenced many punk and electronic bands in the years to come. With a musical portfolio spanning more than five decades, this ever-authentic punk icon will not be soon forgotten. May he rest in peace.