Alan Myers, the third and most prominent drummer of the band Devo, has died, according to a tweet by drummer and current Devo member Josh Freese. Myers had been battling cancer.
“Alan Myers was a drummer of incomparable talent, a human metronome that drove the herky jerky percolation of Devo,” band co-founder Gerald Casale told Billboard, confirming the news. “He was an irreplacable component of the Devo sound. It was a joy playing with him for 9 years. I begged him not to quit in 1986.”
Myers joined Devo in 1976 and left a decade later. He can be heard on the New Wave band’s biggest hit, 1980’s “Whip It,” which reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Myers also appears in the song’s iconic video, joining his bandmates in black, sleeveless turtlenecks, and their trademark headgear, where he is shown playing a set of Synare 3 drum synthesizers.
His style of drumming became near legendary thanks to such seminal albums as Devo’s 1978 debut, “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” And 1980’s “Freedom of Choice” as well as the concert movie “Devo Live 1980,” issued by Target Video in 2005.
Tributes began spreading on Twitter and Facebook soon after the news was disseminated by the likes of Ralph Carney, uncle of Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who posted on Facebook, “He was Devo’s best drummer and one of the first people to teach me about jazz. i cry……….”
In a 2010 interview with Spin, Freese, who started playing drums with Devo in 1996, described the influence Myers’ sound had on him. “It was the first album I got, when I was eight years old,” he told the music site. “I sat in my basement and played along to it all the time, so it was crazy when we did that tour last year where we played it top to bottom. It’s fun in the way that it’s very metronomic and the patterns are very deliberate and kind of nursery rhyme. A lot of people think that it’s a drum machine on ‘Whip It.’ But that’s Alan Myers.”