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…