Andy Gill, guitarist and founding member of legendary post-punk band Gang of Four, died on 1 February, following a short respiratory illness. He was 64 years old.
The news was announced in a statement posted on the band’s official Twitter account. “This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” the statement begins.
“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.”
“His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause, meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record and planning the next tour from his hospital bed. 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.
“One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us all, 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…Love you mate.”
The statement is signed by Gill’s bandmates John Sterry, Thomas McNeice and Tobias Humble.
Andy Gill played guitar for Gang of Four from the Leeds band’s inception in 1976, alongside original members Jon King, Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham. Though their line-up changed several times over the years, Gill remained the sole original member of Gang of Four throughout – a career ranging from 1978 debut single ‘Damaged Goods’ to 2019’s Happy Now, their most recent studio album.
Often cited as one of the world’s greatest and most distinctive guitarists, Gill left his mark on his own music, as founding member of Gang of Four. In pioneering the band’s sparse, jagged sound and looping feedback, he 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.
Gang of Four are considered one of the most influential British rock bands of all time, with their post-punk sound defining a whole era of new music coming out of Britain in the late 70s. Gang of Four continued to evolve, innovate and remain vibrantly relevant. They released the widely-acclaimed What Happens Next in 2015, toured extensively in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East just last year and continued to release new music, with latest album Happy Now out in 2019, and a new studio album just finished.
Political and pointed, Gang of Four’s debut album Entertainment! (which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019), has been listed as one of the greatest albums of all time in Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and others. Respected writer David Fricke of Rolling Stone described the band as “probably the best politically motivated band in rock & roll.”
The entertainment world has been paying tribute to Andy Gill this evening, including Gary Numan, Tom Morello, Graham Coxon, Frankie Boyle, Primal Scream’s Simone Marie, and many more.
On Twitter, R.E.M’s Mike Mills said: “Really bummed to hear of Andy Gill’s passing. He, and the rest of the Gang, changed how we attacked the live show, gave us a bar to try and rise to. And so much metallic volume…good bye to one of the best. R.I.P., Andy. #GangOfFour”
The Cure’s original drummer Lol Tolhurst wrote: “RIP Andy Gill, Gang Of Four. ‘Damaged Goods’ will always remind me of being 19 and free. Thank you for that.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers star Flea paid tribute on Instagram. “Andy Gill, one of my favourite guitar players of all time has left us. Go listen to the Gang of Four album Entertainment! right now. Turn that sh_t up loud and rock the f_k out. Dance. Think,” he wrote.
“That’s a record that changed my life forever, and was massively influential on my development as a musician, and showed me what a rock band could be. There is nothing else like it. It cut a f_king hole right the thick LA smog that I wanted to jump through.”
Andy Gill is survived by his wife Catherine Mayer, his brother Martin and many family and elective family members.