Obits, Video — December 9, 2009 at 12:13 am

Bruce Allen of The Suburbs, 1955-2009

Bruce C. Allen

Minneapolis this week lost a key figure in that city’s now-legendary ’80s underground rock scene: guitarist Bruce C. Allen of New Wave act The Suburbs, the first band to be released by the seminal Twin/Tone label.

According to the Star Tribune, Allen, 54, died Monday night after being taken off life support. He’d been hospitalized last week with internal bleeding and organ failure, complications from a triple bypass surgery he underwent last year.

The surviving members of the Suburbs issued a statement Tuesday, praising Allen for “contributing his unique guitar skills and warm and funny personality to a band and moment in music that many have recognized made a difference in Minnesota pop culture.”

Known for mixing rock, New Wave and funk, The Suburbs formed in 1977 and released their self-titled debut EP that year on Twin/Tone. The band issued several releases on the Twin Cities label in the early ’80s before jumping to major labels Mercury Records and A&M. The group disbanded in 1987, but later reunited for sporadic concerts.

Twin/Tone co-founder Peter Jesperson told the Star Tribune that Allen’s guitar playing and “stylish appearance” always helped the Suburbs stand out: “They never made that big splash elsewhere, but locally they were like the Rolling Stones, always a big deal when they played a show. He always looked cool. A lot of the bands copied him.”

Allen also was an accomplished graphic designer, creating his own band’s five-men-in-a-circle logo, as well one for Twin/Tone. Most famously, he designed the iconic album cover for The Replacements’ Let It Be.

Watch Bruce C. Allen in a pair of Suburbs videos after the jump…


  1. Dean Vaccaro

    very, very sad news to Minneapolis music fans. the importance and popularity of The Suburbs in this region cannot be overstated.

    “You know I was talking to Jesus the other day- Told Him I was a little bit worried. He said, listen I’ll take care of it. I said, well I’ve done some pretty bad things in my life… Had a few drinks, told a few lies… He said, listen- I’ll put you on the guest list.”

    Credit in Heaven.

  2. Bruce was my Nephew, I loved and liked him since the day he took his first steps. He loved music and women, two things we shared. I taught him how to fish, he taught me how to Rock. I will miss this handsome, talented young man that left us too soon. He used to call me “Unc.” God bless you son of my Brother Bob…..

  3. Edward R. FitzPatrick III

    I just watched this after reading about the new album. I was at the benefit concerts for Bruce at First Ave. A young college friend of mine flew in from LA to join me and celebrate her 40th B-Day. We even found her cousin a ticket on the street that night after I told her not to bring her to a SOLD OUT show.
    I was at so many shows… Navy Island in ’83 a landmark. The Suburbs and Bruce gave me an identity when I was a teenager bursting with love of all kinds of music that was not played on the radio. I have pursued that love throughout my life and without Bruce that may never have happened.

  4. Pingback: Song of the Day: The Suburbs – Hey Muse!

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