ANDY GILL GANG of FOUR – Founding Member Dies Aged 64

Posted: February 1, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Image may contain: 1 person, playing a musical instrument, on stage, night and guitar

Andy Gill, a founding member and guitarist for the British post-punk band Gang of Four, has died. He was 64.

Formed in Leeds in 1976, Gang Of Four’s career spanned five decades, from their first single Damaged Goods to last year’s studio album Happy Now. In 1979, they made their Top 60 chart debut with At Home He’s A Tourist – despite the song being banned by the BBC for a lyrical reference to condoms.

Their debut album Entertainment!, released in September of the same year, has frequently been cited as an influence or inspiration by aspiring musicians, Combining Marxist politics with punk, dub, funk and disco, the “stiff, jerky aggression of songs such as Damaged Goods and I Found That Essence Rare invented a new style,

Gang Of Four never had a hit single (1982’s I Love A Man In Uniform came close, before it was banned from the airwaves during the Falklands War) but their first three albums are considered indispensable. They split in 1984, but reformed several times over the years, with a variety of line-ups. They released 10 albums in all, with a couple of periods of hiatus during their 40-year history Gill was the only constant throughout their career.

Gill’s death was announced Saturday (February. 1st) on Twitter by his current bandmates Thomas McNeice, John Sterry and Tobias Humble. A cause of death was not given. Gill had developed a “respiratory illness,” after finishing an Asian tour with Gang Of Four last year, they said. “This pain is the price of extraordinary joy, almost three decades with the best man in the world,” wrote his wife, Catherine Mayer, on Twitter.

Gill was a founding member of Gang of Four since the band’s inception in the late 1970s, and served as guitarist and producer of the group’s nine albums, including Happy Now in 2019. The musician’s scratchy, staccato riffs provided the band with their signature sound, and influenced the likes of Nirvana, Fugazi and Franz Ferdinand.

“This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” Gang of Four wrote in the statement. “Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.”

The group called Gill “one of the best to ever do it,” adding that his “influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music.” His bandmates ended their post asking fans to “go give ’em a spin for him.” He had just finished a new studio album with Gang Of Four, they added.

As a producer, Gill worked on many high-profile music projects, including Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ 1984 self-titled debut album. He also worked on music by the Stranglers, Michael Hutchence, Killing Joke, Therapy?, the Jesus Lizard and the Futureheads.

In 2018, Gill spoke about his never-ending interest in creating music. “These days I get up early at 6:30, I get a cup of tea and I go straight down the studio and start working … I get a buzz out of it. I’m not in any hurry to stop,” he said.

Gill is survived by his wife, Catherine Mayer; his brother Martin; and “many family and elective family members who will miss him terribly” . His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed.

But to us, he was our friend – and we’ll remember him for his kindness and generosity, his fearsome intelligence, bad jokes, mad stories and endless cups of Darjeeling tea. He just so happened to be a bit of a genius too.

One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music. And his albums and production work speak for themselves. Go give ‘em a spin for him…Love you mate.

John, Thomas and Tobias

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