Devo founding guitarist Bob Casale died Monday after medical complications unexpectedly led to heart failure, his brother Gerald said. Bob Casale was 61.
Bob had recently been hospitalized due to stomach ailments, his brother said when reached by phone Tuesday, but had been thought to be recovering. Gerald said his brother was otherwise in good health and had been working on numerous Devo-related projects.
"During testing, he de-stabilized. They were a little flummoxed," Gerald said. "He was sitting up, talking and the next thing he was in an ER, life-and-death situation. His blood pressure dropped too low and they couldn't stabilize it in time."
Devo was formed in the early 1970s in Akron, Ohio, by singer Mark Mothersbaugh and bassist Gerald, who met while at Kent State University. With a love for marketing and a world view that was steeped in irony, Devo straddled the avant-garde and pop worlds with a twisted, technologically savvy take on rock 'n' roll.
Gerald recruited his brother Bob for guitar/keyboards. Mothersbaugh's brother, also named Bob, played guitar, and drummer Alan Myers rounded out the group. Early on, the band was seen by some in the press as sort-of a new-wave version of KISS.
"We were a real machine. We were white Jame Browns. We were real tight, we played real fast and people didn't believe what they were seeing," said Gerald.
By the time Devo released “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” in 1978, the group had cemented an oddball presentation that left audiences guessing, whether it was the group's deconstructed version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” or its yellow lab suit costumes.
Devo, said Gerald, had been deep into the planning stages of 40th anniversary concerts that were to begin this summer. Longtime Devo drummer Myers died last year, and the plan for the upcoming shows was to have regular collaborator Josh Freese sit in. Gerald said the dates were to focus on rarely played songs recorded between 1974 and 1977, songs that appear on the 1990 release "Hardcore Devo: Volume One."
Gerald said that the project is largely finished and that he is looking for investors.
"It is all the more sad that something Bob had spearheaded by putting a team together is now done and he is not here to see it through," Gerald said.