The music world lost one of its greatest innovators on July 16 when Suicide founder and electronic music pioneer Alan Vega died in his sleep at the age of 78. He is survived by his wife Liz and son Dante. The news was delivered by Henry Rollins, who shared a family-approved message on his website.
“Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level,” reads the statement. “His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.”
Vega and bandmate Martin Rev started Suicide within the nascent alternative and avant-garde music scenes of 1970s New York City. The touted a sound that was unlike any other artists of the time. Holding minimalism in high regard, the two crafted an electronic-based sound with Vega’s challenging and at-time disquieting vocals. Still several years from the emergence and acceptance of punk rock music, the duo were among the first groups to use the term when promoting their concerts. Their confrontational live performances were legendary, with one recorded concert “23 Minutes Over Brussels” supposedly falling apart into an all-out riot.
The band released five studio albums over their decades-long career, beginning with their landmark self-titled debut in 1977 and concluding with 2000’s Mute Records-released “American Supreme.” Even in the decade and a half following their final proper studio album, Suicide and Alan Vega remained very active. In fact, the group has been scheduled to perform as one of the headliners this October at the 2016 Desert Daze Festival in Southern California. The festival left a message on their Facebook page in response to his death:
“We are shocked and heartbroken by the passing of the great Alan Vega: a man who inspired so many of us, an innovator and pioneer, one of the warriors who taught us to never compromise, a boundary breaking ghost rider of the unknown who paved the way for so many of us. It goes without saying that we were excited and honored to host Suicide at this year’s festival. Our condolences go out to his family, wife Liz and son Dante, his collaborator Martin Rev, and all fans feeling this loss.”