Alan Vega, founder of the legendary New York punk band Suicide, has died. He was 78. The iconic experimental musician’s passing was reported via Henry Rollins on his website. Vega reportedly died peacefully in his sleep. His family released a statement, which you can read below:
“With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away.
Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age.
Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970’s, they formed the two person avant band known as Suicide. Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light-years before Punk Rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music.
Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.
One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.
Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth—this was Alan Vega.
Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever.”
As the statement indicates, Vega is one of the most influential musicians of the punk era, and of the past 50 years. The group essentially started off an entire synth-pop movement in the late ’70s, and their eerie, minimalist sound has been often imitated though never captured in such a captivating way. Their self-titled debut is on our list of 10 Essential Synth-Pop Albums, and their terrifying 10-minute dirge “Frankie Teardrop” is on our list of 10 Essential Scary Story Songs.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.