For the second time in nine months, a prominent member of new wave band Devo has passed away. Guitarist Bob Casale, who started Devo with his brother Gerald in 1972 and played on every Devo album, died suddenly of heart failure on Feb. 17, as confirmed by his brother. He was 61.
Gerald Casale released a statement concerning Bob’s passing: “He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.”
After forming in Akron and spending several years building a grassroots following, Devo signed to Warner Bros. in 1978, thanks in part to David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Their debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! put the band on the international stage, peaking at a respectable No. 78 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and shooting to No. 12 on the UK pop chart. Two years later, the band scored their first Top-40 hit with “Whip It,” which went on to become their best-known song. The band took a break in 1991, re-formed in 1996, and have continued to function since.
Casale is the second Devo member in recent memory to pass away. Drummer Alan Myers, who also played on “Whip It” and left the band in 1986, died of stomach cancer in June 2013.