R.I.P. Glenn Branca

The avant-garde legend and no wave pioneer was 69

BY Brock ThiessenPublished May 14, 2018

Avant-garde legend Glenn Branca has died. The tragic news arrived today via his wife and collaborator Reg Bloor, who broke the news that Branca had passed away from throat cancer. Branca was 69.

According to Bloor, Branca — who played a key role in the rise of New York City's famed 1970s no wave scene — died in his sleep last night (May 13).

"I feel grateful to have been able to live and work with such an amazing source of ideas and creativity for the past 18 1/2 years," Bloor wrote. "His musical output was a fraction of the ideas he had in a given day. His influence on the music world is incalculable.

"Despite his gruff exterior, he was a deeply caring and fiercely loyal man. We lived in our own little world together. I love him so much. I'm absolutely devastated."

Bloor added, "He lived a very full life and had no regrets. Thank you to all the fans and all of the musicians whose support made that possible."

You can see the post below.

Born in Harrisburg, PA, in 1948, Branca began playing guitar at the age of 15, eventually beginning his professional career in the world of experimental theatre in the mid-1970s. In 1975, Branca began experimenting with sound in a group called Bastard Theatre in Boston. But it's when he moved to New York City the following year that he really began making his mark on music.

It's in NYC that Branca formed famed no wave band Theoretical Girls with Jeffrey Lohn. By the early '80s, Branca had started his own label, Neutral Records, which released early records from Sonic Youth.

By this time, Branca also led his own guitar ensemble under his own name, with the group serving as a jumping-off point for an array of now-famed musicians, including Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, as well as Swans' Michael Gira and Helmet's Page Hamilton.

Among Branca's most famed works are his ensemble's beloved 1980 cult classic Lesson No. 1, as well as 1981 album The Ascension and 1983's Symphony No. 1 (Tonal Plexus).

While Branca is best known for his '80s output, he remained musically active throughout his life, most recently releasing his 2016 effort Symphony No. 13 (Hallucination City) for 100 Guitars.

As per his wishes, there will be no formal memorial service for Branca, Bloor wrote.

Latest Coverage