February 18, 2014

Founding Devo Member Bob Casale Died Unexpectedly

Bob Casale, one of the original members of Devo, died on Monday due to heart failure at the age of 61.

Casale's brother and fellow Devo founder Gerald Casale wrote on the band's website:

Bob Casale of Devo. Born: July 14th, 1952 . Deceased: February 17th, 2014

As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning.
He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. 

He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again.
His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.

-Gerald Casale, Devo founderThe band Devo was originally conceptualized by Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis while at Kent State University. Their theory was that human beings had actually started to go through deevoloution which they would use to create art pieces. Gerald would later meet Mark Mothersbaugh who, with brother Bob, Rob Reisman, Fred Weber and Lewis would form the group Sextet Devo who only played one show in 1973 at the Kent State performing arts festival.

Over the next four years, the group went through numerous lineup changes until late-1976 when the best known version came together with Bob and Mark Mothersbaugh, Gerald and Bob Casale and Alan Myers. The group released a number of singles and EPs before David Bowie and Iggy Pop discovered them leading to a contract with Warner Brothers.

Their first full album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, was produced by Brian Eno and released on August 28, 1978. The album included a number of re-recordings of songs from their previous releases including Mongoloid, Jocko Homo and a cover of the Rolling Stones (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. The album made it to 78 with the followup, 1979's Duty For the Future, getting to 73.

Their big break came in 1980 with the release of Freedom of Choice and the trackWhip It which made it to number 14 and became a staple on early music television. The album peaked at number 22 while their next release, New Traditionalists, hit 23.

It was at the time of Freedom of Choice that the band fully cemented their persona with the red energy dome hats. The band also occasionally performed as the spoof Christian group Dove (the Band of Love), even opening for themselves in concert.

Post-New Traditionalists, the group started to see flagging sales until they were dropped by their label after the release of 1984's Shout. Although they released two more albums, 1988's Total Devo and 1990's Smooth Noodle Maps, they broke up after just two shows in 1991.

Bob followed the Mothersbaugh brothers as they opened their production studio, Mutato Muzika, where he worked as a recording engineer.

In 1996, the band reformed for the Sundance Film Festival and played as a surprise guest on some stops of that year's Lollapalooza Tour. The reunion led to a permanent regrouping even thought it was on a part time basis so members could pursue outside interests. Finally, in 2010, the group released their first album of new material in twenty years, Something For Everybody.

Casale is survived by his wife, Lisa, a son, Alex, and a daughter, Samantha.
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