Andy Gill, founding member and guitarist for the British post-punk outfit Gang of Four, has died at the age of 64.
Gill’s current band mates Thomas McNeice, John Sterry and Tobias Humble announced the guitarist’s death Saturday on Twitter. A rep for the band said that Gill died at a London hospital following a short respiratory illness.
“This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” Gang of Four wrote. “Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.”
The band continued, “One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music. And his albums and production work speak for themselves. Go give ’em a spin for him…”
“Andy, often cited as one of the world’s greatest guitarists, left his mark on his own music, as founding member of Gang of Four,” a rep for the band added. “In pioneering the band’s sparse, jagged sound and looping feedback, Andy also inspired and informed generations of musicians. A ground-breaking composer and a brilliantly innovative producer, he worked with artists including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Stranglers, the Futureheads, Michael Hutchence, Bono, Therapy and the Young Knives.”
The politically conscious Gang of Four formed in the late Seventies in the wake of the punk explosion, with the band fusing punk with funk and reggae, all punctuated by Gill’s jagged and incomparable riffs. Gang of Four’s 1978 debut LP Entertainment! was listed as one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Album of All Time.
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As Gang of Four’s lone full-time member, Gill served as guitarist and producer on all nine of the band’s albums, including 2019’s Happy Now; following co-founder Jon King’s exit in 2012, Gill remained Gang of Four’s last original member.
“When you’ve been around awhile, I think some people want to hear you do what they consider classic Gang of Four, whatever that is. Some sort of retake on Entertainment!” Gill told Diffuser in 2014. “But with what was happening then, the sort of sounds I was making in 1979 were a response to what the environment was then musically and lyrically. That’s what I’m doing now, but the world has moved on. I don’t want to do something that sounded like then, which belongs to the here and now. I don’t spend much time thinking about that, I just get on with it.”
As a producer, Gill worked on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ self-titled 1984 debut album; Flea credited Gang of Four as a major influence, as did Kurt Cobain, who listed Entertainment! as one of his favorite albums in the posthumously published Journals.
Tom Morello wrote of Gill Saturday, “One of my principal influences on the instrument as his jagged plague disco raptor attack industrial funk deconstructed guitar anti-hero sonics and fierce poetic radical intellect were formative for me. So glad I got to see him and revel in his incendiary art and wry wit several times over the past year. He was really, really fucking great.”
“His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed,” Gang of Four tweeted.
“But to us, he was our friend – and we’ll remember him for his kindness and generosity , his fearsome intelligence, bad jokes, mad stories and endless cups of Darjeeling tea. He just so happened to be a bit of a genius too.”