Music | March 14, 2020 7:42 pm

Groundbreaking Musician Genesis Breyer P-Orridge Dead at 70

P-Orridge's work includes the bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV

Genesis P-Orridge
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's long musical career involved several decades of challenging, uncompromising music.
Neville Elder/Redferns

Some revered musicians reinvent their chosen genre and settle into a comfortable artistic routine. For Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, who died today at the age of 70, music and art existed in a constant state of flux and reinvention. At Pitchfork, Braudie Blais-Billie reports that P-Orridge — whose work includes co-founding the industrial band Throbbing Gristle and the avant-garde group Psychic TV, as well as literary and visual work — died this morning.

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It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our friend, great influence and beloved artist and legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. The following message is from Caresse and Genesse P-Orridge: Dear friends, family and loving supporters, It is with very heavy hearts that we announce thee passing of our beloved father, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. S/he had been battling leukemia for two and a half years and dropped he/r body early this morning, Saturday March 14th, 2020. S/he will be laid to rest with h/er other half, Jaqueline “Lady Jaye” Breyer who left us in 2007, where they will be re-united. Thank you for your love and support and for respecting our privacy as we are grieving. Caresse & Genesse P-Orridge #s/heisher/eforever

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A 2011 article by John Doran at The Quietus explored Throbbing Gristle’s impact and influence, one which focused on the group’s confrontational nature. “Only Throbbing Gristle had the right to the mantra: We just make music for ourselves, and if our audience hate it as well – then that’s a bonus,” Doran wrote.

P-Orridge’s subsequent project took he/r concerns in a somewhat different direction. In a 2017 review of a pair of Psychic TV reissues, Stuart Berman wrote, “After attempting to destroy rock’n’roll with Throbbing Gristle, P-Orridge’s mission with Psychic TV was to infiltrate and infect it, and transmit the Temple’s message to a wider audience.”

P-Orridge’s life also included challenging questions of gender and identity, as Blais-Billie explains at Pitchfork:

In 1993, P-Orridge and h/er second wife Lady Jaye relocated to Ridgewood, Queens, where they would undergo the “Pandrogeny Project” — they received body modification surgery to resemble one another as a single “pandrogynous” being named Breyer P-Orridge and adopted gender neutral pronouns. Though Lady Jaye died of stomach cancer in 2007, P-Orridge continued to identify as pandrogynous for the rest of h/er life.

Complicating questions of P-Orridge’s legacy are the accusations made by h/er former bandmate and romantic partner Cosey Fanni Tutti in her 2017 memoir. In an article for The Guardian, Lottie Brazier wrote, “Fanni Tutti reveals another side to P-Orridge’s story, in which her own artistic freedoms and body, which she also considers interchangeable, are controlled and oppressed by her then-lover and bandmate.” In a 2018 interview, P-Orridge denied these charges.

Following h/er diagnosis, P-Orridge performed h/er final concert in 2018.  The work s/he leaves behind spans artistic mediums and genres, and influenced a host of acclaimed artists working today — even as h/er ultimate legacy will long be debated and discussed.

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