Photo: c. 2016 oneintenwords.com
Andy Gill, the guitarist who co-founded and remained the sole original member of Gang of Four, and whose sharp-edged playing help define the U.K. post-punk sound of the late 1970s and early ’80s, died Saturday at a London hospital following a short respiratory illness. He was 64.
The band’s publicists confirmed Gill’s death, and released a statement from the rest of Gang of Four’s current lineup: singer John Sterry, bassist Thomas McNeice and drummer Tobias Humble.
This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today. Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row. His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause, meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record and planning the next tour from his hospital bed. But to us, he was our friend — and we’ll remember him for his kindness and generosity, his fearsome intelligence, bad jokes, mad stories and endless cups of Darjeeling tea. He just so happened to be a bit of a genius too. One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us all, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music. And his albums and production work speak for themselves.
Go give ‘em a spin for him…
Love you mate
Gill co-founded Gang of Four in Leeds, England, in 1976 with singer Jon King, bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. The band’s 1979 debut, Entertainment!, is considered a template for the post-punk movement, and a classic of the rock ‘n’ roll era.
The group’s lineup changed over the years, as did its sound through the early ’80s and a revival in the early ’90s. The original lineup reunited between 2004 and 2006, and the band continued on under Gill’s leadership, releasing three albums in the 2010s — with last year’s Happy Now being the most recent.
Burnham posted the following statement on Facebook on behalf of the original lineup:
As the founder members of Gang of Four, some 40-odd years ago, we fondly remember the good times when the four of us wanted to change the world. Andy was our brother. We made a lot of great noise and art together. We had a few drinks. We traveled the world and made friends. We made people dance, and think, and laugh, and love. We laughed together. A lot.
Our hearts go out to his wife, Catherine and his brother, Martin.
Jon King, Hugo Burnham, Dave Allen -– Gang of Four
Gill also worked as a producer, serving in that role on all of the band’s albums and producing records for the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Killing Joke, The Jesus Lizard, The Stranglers and The Futureheads.
He is survived by his wife Catherine Mayer and his brother Martin Gill.
Really bummed to hear of Andy Gill’s passing. He, and the rest of the Gang, changed how we attacked the live show, gave us a bar to try and rise to. And so much metallic volume…good bye to one of the best. R.I.P., Andy. #GangOfFour
— Mike Mills ❄️💨⛄️ (@m_millsey) February 1, 2020
Just heard that Andy Gill from Gang Of Four has died. That is tragic. Andy was a unique talent.
— Gary Numan (@numanofficial) February 1, 2020
RIP Andy Gill, Gang Of Four " Damaged Goods " will always remind me of being 19 and free. Thank you for that.
— Lol Tolhurst (@LolTolhurst) February 1, 2020
goodbye to the feedback master Andy Gill of Gang of 4, I saw them at the Ritz in 1980 or 81, R.E.M. was the opener
— Dean Wareham (@WarehamDean) February 2, 2020
R.I.P. to the great guitarist Andy Gill. Such a expressive, influential player . #gangoffour https://t.co/Qci7iQYy9a
— Kid Congo Powers (@kidcongopowers) February 1, 2020
So sad to hear about the passing of Andy Gill. Gang of Four were one of the best and working with Andy on our early singles and first album set us on our path. A true gent. Absolutely gutted.
— The Futureheads (@thefutureheads) February 1, 2020
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS
- Gang of Four sets North American tour in support of new album ‘What Happens Next’
- Vintage Video: Gang of Four deliver an electrifying set at Croatian festival in 1981
- Andy Gill debuts new song, album plans as Gang of Four moves on without Jon King
- Video: Gang of Four, ‘It Was Never Gonna Turn Out Too Good,’ off 2011′s ‘Content’
- Video: Watch Gang of Four’s 40-minute live set recorded for KCRW
It must have been a heavy burden … he created something so unique and powerful but it failed to take off and sustain. I know the Clash were more important culturally, but Gang of 4 created the most compelling punk / social commentary music. This is sad, and a shame. And the music industry blows for trying to make them sound like ABC. If it were the 70s they would have been allowed to operated at a loss a few more years and build
SONGS OF THE FREE was one the first lps I ever bought and it literally changed my entire perspective. I dug Entertainment too.
A huge loss — Andy Gill and his original merry men played a big part in changing my ideas of what music was, and the type of subject matter it covered. Songs like “Anthrax,” “Paralyzed” and “To Hell With Poverty” became an important part of my soundtrack in life.
I discovered GoF via Greil Marcus’s July 1980 article in Rolling Stone (“It’s Fab, It’s Passionate, It’s Wild, It’s Intelligent! It’s the Hot New Sound of England Today”). That made me and my best friend in high school seek out their music, and from then on, we got hooked, as the cliché goes — and Andy’s guitar style played a big part in that, leading the charge. Future listeners will have plenty to discover.