Bob Casale, a founding member of New Wave pioneers Devo, died at the age of 61 on Monday (Feb. 17). A statement from Casale’s brother Gerald, also a member of the group, confirms that the cause of death was heart failure.
The Casale brothers formed Devo in Akron, Ohio in 1972 with Mark Motherbaugh and Robert Mothersbaugh (Bob Casale was known as “Bob 2” in the group, with Robert Mothersbaugh called “Bob 1”). The group’s spastic post-punk earned a cult following in the mid-70’s, and 1978 debut album “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!,” produced by Brian Eno, earned critical acclaim.
Devo’s biggest success on the Billboard charts came with its iconic single “Whip It,” which reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980. The act charted two more singles: “Working In the Coal Mine” (No. 43 in 1981) and “Theme from ‘Doctor Detroit'” (No. 59 in 1983). The album that contained “Whip It,” 1980’s “Freedom of Choice,” was the group’s highest-charting effort on the Billboard 200. It hit No. 22 and spent 51 weeks on the list, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (for one million copies sold).
The band’s 2010 album, “Something for Everybody,” ended a 20-year album hiatus for the group, and hit No. 30 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on the Alternative Albums chart. Bob Casale served as Devo’s guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist for most of its four-decade run.
“As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning,” says Gerald Casale in a statement. “He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.”
Bob Casale, born in July 1952, is survived by his wife Lisa, his son Alex and his daughter Samantha.