Given the sad news this week about the passing of former Devo drummer Alan Myers, it only seems fitting to pull out Devo’s best-known hit “Whip It” for this week’s Rock Rewind. (Yes, that’s Myers on the drums, although you can’t really see him.)
“Whip It” was released on the New Wave outfit’s third album Freedom Of Choice (1980), and while it was by far their most successful track, it still only managed to peak at Number 14 on the Billboard chart. But that was enough to cause Freedom Of Choice to go Platinum, as well as establish a solid cult following for the band, who became widely known for their surrealism and sci-fi vibe. In the years since its release, “Whip It” has become an indelible part of pop culture, commonly referenced in films and television shows (for example, in 2004’s Raising Helen), and even covered by the likes of Moby, Korn and Alvin & the Chipmunks.
Interestingly enough, since “Whip It” came out right before MTV spearheaded the music video phenomenon in 1981, the accompanying music video was one of the early favorites on MTV rotation and established Devo as pioneers in the video market. Of course, the video appears tame by today’s standards, but the S&M subtext caused a bit of a stir in its day.
Alan Myers left Devo in 1987, and the band broke up in 1991, only to reunite several years later. They are still performing today.