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Devo founding member Robert Casale dies at age 61
Iconic look and sound began in Northeast Ohio in 1972
Story by M.L. SCHULTZE AND VIVIAN GOODMAN


 
Devo began touring again in 2010
Courtesy of Sebastian Dooris
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The guitarist, keyboardist and backup vocalist for the New Wave group Devo has died of heart failure. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on Bob Casale, who provided the musical underpinnings for the group.

LISTEN: Bob Casale and Devo

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LISTEN: Giffels on Bob Casale and Devo

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LISTEN: More music

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Devo came together in 1972, while Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh were art students at Kent State. That blending of art and music was a trademark for the group, says David Giffels, who has co-written a book based on the title of the group’s well-received debut album, “Are we Not Men? We are Devo!”

Giffels says the band was marked by the powerful personalities of Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale. But Bob Casale was a skilled musician and a needed presence.

“They were kind of the face of the band. But this band was so much about, in some ways about facelessness, that he kind of fit into the role of support. I think they needed him, I think he’s probably an underappreciated member in that way because that band couldn’t have handled another strong personality trying to write songs and take the lead on things.”

Gerald Casale describing his brother, Bob, on Facebook:
"...my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got."

Devo actually consisted of two sets of brothers, including Mothersbaugh’s brother Bob, who was known as Bob 1, while Casale was Bob 2. Giffels says that added to the group’s robotic feel.

Devo released its latest album in 2010 and began touring again. But its drummer, Alan Myers, died last year. Bob Casale was 61 when he died on Monday. He’s survived by his wife, Lisa, and a son and daughter.

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