Alan Vega, vocalist and co-founder of proto-punk icons Suicide, has died. His passing was announced tonight (July 16) through a family statement posted on Henry Rollins' website. While a cause of death has yet to be revealed, the message from Vega's family noted that he had passed away "peacefully." He was 78 years old.
Vega had founded Suicide in 1970 alongside keyboardist Martin Rev. The duo were electronic music pioneers, Rev supplying a bed of cyclical drum machine beats and keyboard sounds for vocalist Vega to glide his profound baritone over. The project took their name from an old Ghost Rider comic book, which had also been referenced on the band's motorcycle hero-saluting "Ghost Rider." The song would become the opening number on the outfit's landmark, self-titled debut from 1977.
Pre-dating New York's punk scene, Suicide's influence extends into the worlds of punk, industrial, dance music and more. Bruce Springsteen was also greatly inspired by Vega and Rev, having covered their 1979 single "Dream Baby Dream" in concert before issuing a version of his own on 2014's High Hopes.
Suicide would go on to issue five studio full-lengths, the last of which being 2002's American Supreme. The band's catalogue also features various singles and live releases. For his part. Vega also issued a handful of solo albums, and collaborations with artists including wife Liz Lamere and Ric Ocasek.
You can read Vega family's statement in full below.
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.
Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age.
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 1970's, 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.
Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.
One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.
Alan's life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth—this was Alan Vega.
Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever.