Alan Vega, frontman of electronic pioneers Suicide, has died in his sleep aged 78.

Former Black Flag singer Henry Rollins, a friend of Vega’s, broke the news on his website with a statement from Vega’s family.

“With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away,” the statement reads.

“Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970s, they formed the two-person avant band known as Suicide.

“Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light years before punk rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music.”

Vega recorded five studio albums with his bandmate Martin Rev, beginning with 1977’s stripped-back punk classic, Suicide. Making use of primitive drum machines and synthesisers, the duo’s raw sound has been cited as influence by countless electronic and punk artists. They were also among the first bands to use the word “punk” in a musical context, in a flyer for an early gig in 1970, and their chaotic and often violent performances laid the foundations of a scene that would later define downtown New York City.

Born Alan Bermowitz in Brooklyn in 1938, Vega studied physics and fine art at Brooklyn College and became involved in radical artists groups during the 1960s, making paintings and light sculptures. After seeing The Stooges live in 1969, he decided to extend his art into music, and founded Suicide with Rev a year later. As well as recording with Rev he also released numerous solo records and collaborated with Alex Chilton, Ric Ocasek and Gillian McCain.

Vega suffered a stroke in 2012 and had been in fragile health, but was still performing until recently, appearing at London’s Barbican last year for a “punk mass” harking back to their first show.

He is survived by his wife Liz and son Dante. Watch Suicide perform ‘Dream Baby Dream’ and hear other classic tracks below.



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