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Gang of Four guitarist and cofounder Andy Gill dies at 64

Andy Gill, guitarist and cofounder of the influential British postpunk band Gang of Four, died Saturday after a brief respiratory illness, according to a statement from the band.

Gang of Four
Gang of Four

Chicago Tribune:

Andy Gill, guitarist and cofounder of the influential British postpunk band Gang of Four, died Saturday after a brief respiratory illness, according to a statement from the band. He was 64.
“Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.,” the statement reads in part.

Via songs like “Damaged Goods,” “What We All Want,” “I Found That Essence Rare” and “I Love a Man in Uniform,” Gill’s jagged, lurching, innovative guitar work, a mixture of punk noise and ’60s R&B textures, was the band’s trademark and, along with acts like Public Image Ltd. and Joy Division, defined the sound of British post-punk. Gang of Four had a wide influence on many musicians that followed — R.E.M., Nirvana and many others cited the band as an influence. Gill also worked extensively as a producer over the years, producing the debut 1984 album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers — whose fusion of funk and punk-rock showed a distinct Gang of Four influence in the band’s early days — the Jesus Lizard, Futureheads, Killing Joke and others.

Gill cofounded the band with lead singer Jon King in 1976 while both were attending art school in the Northern English city of Leeds, a fertile source of late-period punk acts (the Mekons also hailed from there). With political-leaning lyrics influenced by socialism and anti-commercialism — a stance echoed in the band’s single and album artwork — and a name from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Gang of Four’s propulsive and confrontational music quickly drove it to underground fame, and after an independently released 1978 single (“Damaged Goods”) and an enthusiastic cosign from the influential BBC DJ John Peel, the band rather ironically signed with Britain’s largest major label, EMI.

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Bummer, another Generation X icon died. 

I can’t claim Gang of Four as my favorite band, or even in my top ten, but they certainly are in my top 100 rock bands.

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