Bob Casale, original member and rhythm guitarist of the sui generis post-punk/New Wave band Devo, died on February 17 at age 61.
In a post on Devo’s Facebook page, Casale’s brother and longtime bandmate Gerald attributed his death to “conditions that lead to heart failure.”
“As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning,” Gerald Casale wrote. “He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got.”
Founded by Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh at Kent State University in the early 1970s, Bob Casale joined Devo in its earliest days, along with Mothersbaugh’s brother Bob and, eventually, drummer Alan Myers, who died last year. (Casale was then known as “Bob 2,” to distinguish him from Bob Mothersbaugh.) In addition to guitar, Casale also played keyboards and had a hand in engineering and producing many of the group’s records.
The group’s first proper album, the Brian Eno-produced “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” was a groundbreaking work of twisted synth pop which established the group’s cult following even as it baffled many critics. 1980s platinum-certified “Freedom of Choice” broke the band through to mainstream audiences, buoyed by the Top 20 single “Whip It.” The 1981 follow-up “New Traditionalists” featured Bob Casale’s first credit as a producer, while 1988’s “Blow Up” repped his first songwriting credit.
The group broke up in 1991, though they reunited periodically for tours and one-off recordings, and Casale served as an engineer for 2010’s “Something for Everybody,” the group’s first new album in 20 years.
Casale is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two children.