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People Who Died: Alan Vega by Clif Taylor (AKA Chick Cashman)

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Alan Vega

Guitar hero Clif Taylor (AKA Chick Cashman) on Alan Vega.
  • Guitar hero Clif Taylor (AKA Chick Cashman) on Alan Vega.

"I always said I was never gonna be an entertainer, Suicide was never supposed to be entertainment."

Boruch Alan Bermowitz or his stage name Alan Vega along with Martin Rev were Suicide. I was lucky and frightened to death enough to have seen Suicide in 1980. So stripped down and simple: futuristic with just keyboards and drum machine.

Then there's Alan Vega. Vega performed with a vengeance as if possessed. One moment he was prowling as a cocky gang leader, the next almost on the verge of a breakdown or a bad acid trip, barely able to squint a thought out, much less a word. Blam, back on the prowl and in your face.

A beat poet's voice and a Gene Vincent stance—so fucking rock 'n' roll!

Suicide are as important to rock 'n' roll and pop music as The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls, MC5, even Elvis. They rolled over an audience like The Leader of the Pack. In short, Alan Vega personified the rock 'n' roll spirit: rebellion, isolation and all romanticism. Their assault had a touch of a dirge, as if Kraftwerk and the Shangri-Las got together at a post-apocalyptic sock hop. So many people have covered "Ghost Rider" and sung the influence of not just the music but of their dedication to the art of doing it—R.E.M, Soft Cell, Springsteen, to name a few.

As a visual artist, Alan was just as rebellious as in his music. His sculptures were minimalist and scraped together with found bits of electronics and light fixtures. Inspired in some ways by Dan Flavin's florescent light sculptures. Alan relied on his surroundings. In the last several years, while continuing with solo projects as well as Suicide, drawing and sculpture took up more of his time.

He died in July this year. The minimalist/maximalist was always doing it his way—conformity was not in his vocabulary. Always a rebel.

An artist in the truest sense of the word! The spirit of Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent and the balls of Iggy Pop. RIP Ghost Rider! Rip 'em up!

— Clif Taylor (AKA Chick Cashman)



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