Guitarist Andy Gill helped to define a thrilling, politically-charged brand of post-punk with his work in Gang of Four, the band he co-founded in 1976. Gill’s long and influential career in music is, sadly, at and end. Gang of Four announced his death earlier today with a post on Twitter.
“This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” the statement begins.
Andy Gill. pic.twitter.com/DHNCz5lAe6
— GANG OF FOUR (@gangof4official) February 1, 2020
The band’s most recent tour took place last year. According to the statement, Gill was “listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed.”
Gang of Four’s first full-length album, Entertainment!, was released in 1979, and is considered by many to be a classic. In a Pitchfork list of the best albums of the 1970s, Entertainment! placed 8th overall. “The album is caustic and bursting with disgust for unethical capitalism, opportunist politicians, and consumer society, among other things, but it’s also crafted with amazing pop sensibility — and is, of course, remarkably danceable,” wrote Joe Tangari.
That blend of catchiness with political urgency would be a hallmark of Gang of Four’s music throughout their long career. The band’s most recent album, Happy Now, was released last year to positive reviews.
Beyond Gill’s influential work as a musician and producer, he was also known for being a thrilling presence when the band performed live — something that was consistent across all eras of the group’s existence.
I’ve seen a lot of great bands in my life. But I don’t think I ever saw, or will ever see again, shows as breathtakingly exciting as the Gang Of Four played in New York and New Jersey in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. RIP Andy Gill, who helped make them that way.
— Glenn Kenny (@Glenn__Kenny) February 1, 2020
I saw Gang of Four in May 2005 and Andy Gill bashed a microwave on stage and it blew my damn mind. RIP pic.twitter.com/uLbF6zMou7
— insufficiently horny (@threeminuterule) February 1, 2020
The legacy of Gang of Four can be heard in numerous bands who blended punk-influenced music with danceable rhythms. But more broadly, Gill’s influence can be seen in artists who blend challenging lyrical themes with accessible music. It’s a legacy that continues today.
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