Alan Myers, Devo’s drummer during their period of greatest success, died Monday of stomach cancer. He was 58. Myers’ death was first reported on Facebook by his friend Ralph Carney, a jazz musician who knew him in Devo’s hometown of Akron, Ohio (and who is the uncle of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney).
Myers became Devo’s third drummer when he joined the band in 1976. Known for his precision on the kit, his playing featured on Devo’s first seven albums, including 1978’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and 1980’s Freedom of Choice, which included the single “Whip It.” He left the band in 1986 over a lack of creative fulfillment as the group increasingly used electronic drums, according to the 2003 book We Are Devo!
After leaving Devo, Myers worked as an electrical contractor in Los Angeles, and since 2005 had played improvisational music with his wife, Christine Myers, in the group Skyline Electric. He had also performed with his daughter, Laena Geronimo, in the experimental ensemble Swahili Blonde.
Myers’ former bandmate Gerald Casale praised the drummer on Twitter as news of his death spread. The Devo founder called Myers “the most incredible drummer I had the privilege to play with for 10 years. Losing him was like losing an arm.”
In subsequent tweets, Casale wrote, “I begged him not to quit Devo. He could not tolerate being replaced by the Fairlight and autocratic machine music. I agreed . . . Alan, you were the best – a human metronome and then some.”
Drummer Josh Freese, who played in Devo from 1996-2012, has cited Myers as one of his major influences. “An underrated/brilliant drummer,” Freese tweeted. “Such an honor playing his parts w/Devo. Godspeed Human Metronome.”
Skyline Electric will perform a tribute to Myers this Friday, June 28th, at the Human Resources gallery in Chinatown in L.A.