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Bob Casale, Devo Guitarist, Dead at 61

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Bob Casale / Devo (Clubdevo.com/Getty Images)

Bob Casale, guitarist for the reverse-flowerpot-hat-wearing '80s new wave band Devo, died Monday of heart failure at age 61.
 
Casale was one of the founding members of the Ohio band best known for its 1980 hit "Whip It," one of the first videos in heavy rotation on MTV when the music channel launched in 1981.
 
The surviving members of Devo, which first formed in 1972, posted a tribute to Casale on their website.

"As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning," his brother and fellow band member Gerald Casale wrote. "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," Gerald continued. "His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all."

Bob is survived by wife Lisa, daughter Samantha, and son Alex.

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Devo (L-R) - Gerald Casale, Bob Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh, Alan Myers and Bob Mothersbaugh, Sept. 1980 (Ron Wolfson/Michael …

Bob gave an extensive interview in late-2012 to New Zealand music website Under the Radar prior to the band's appearance at a couple of music festivals, in which he talked about the band's origins following their witnessing of the Kent State massacre and riots in 1970. "We came of age in the middle of a huge cultural war. This country was basically in the midst of a new civil war - the lines were drawn very clearly," he said.

[Related: Remembering Devo's Bob Casale With Some of Their Greatest Hits]

"There was the preppy college kid who was going to be towards the war and then there was the counter culture who embraced early Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and they were doing pot and hash and psychedelic drugs, and they were against the Vietnam War. And the two sides hated each other, and were ready to kill each other. It was real."

He continued, "I guess (the formation of Devo) was a more immediate way of self-expression that required less money and no outside permission. You try to make a film and you have to come up with the money, you need a big crew, you need to ask people for favours and get permission. If you have an idea for a song you can pretty much go into your basement with your band mates and do it."

As for Devo's early embrace of the music video as a medium for expression, Bob added, "Yeah we saw it as out of one continuous, synergistic line. We certainly understood the power of visuals and stage set-ups and video combining with the music — to us that was the most exciting thing you can do."


Mothersbaugh, Devo's lead singer whose brother Bob was also in Devo, has flourished in recent years as a film composer. Following success with films including "21 Jump Street" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," he has a current hit with "Everything Is Awesome" from "The Lego Movie," a collaboration with Tegan & Sara and the Lonely Island.

In a recent interview with Fox411, Mothersbaugh spoke about the lasting influence Devo has had over pop culture. "There's an argument that Devo invented the modern rock video it could be true because we were making these short concept films about seven or eight years before MTV ever came out … MTV came and allowed everybody to hire someone to come and make a film for them."

The band has had several lineup changes over the years. Bob Casale is the second member to die in the past year; former drummer Alan Myers succumbed to stomach cancer last June.
 
Devo, whose name came from the term "De-evolution" (the idea that mankind has started to regress, rather than evolve), toured extensively in 2012-13, following a huge comeback in 2010 at the Coachella Arts & Music Festival in support of its first album in 20 years, the crowd-sourced, independently released "Something for Everybody."

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