Andy Gill, the pioneering guitarist for maverick underground/alt-rock outfit Gang Of Four, died in a central London hospital today. He was 64. Gill, the last remaining original member of the band since its 1976 inception, was a guitar icon whose aesthetic and technique influenced multiple generations of players, regardless of genre.
In addition to his work with Gang Of Four, Gill was a respected producer who worked with a diverse range of artists. His credits include records by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Jesus Lizard, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence and Killing Joke.
The band shared a statment on Twitter, which you can read in full below.
This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today.
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
Andy Gill. pic.twitter.com/DHNCz5lAe6
— GANG OF FOUR (@gangof4official) February 1, 2020
Gang Of Four formed in Leeds, UK in 1976, with a sound that mixed driving punk with funk rhythms alongside dissonant guitar sounds and leftist polemics. Their massively influential album Entertainment! was released over 40 years ago, and it still burns. Gill, alongside frontman Jon King, bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham, were genuine punk-rock mavericks whose legacy continues to inspire–even if most bands don’t realize the source.
Any guitarist whose sound or techniques have been framed in terms such as “angular,” “jagged,” “serrated” or attendant synonyms can be traced back to Gill. Controlled feedback, atonal textures and straight-up goddamn noise were weapons in his arsenal. As the Gang Of Four’s membership changed, the only constant was his six-stringed attack.
On the 2005 collection Return The Gift, the original lineup reconvened to rerecord some of their acclaimed “hits” and stirring deep cuts. Remixes of these songs were made by artists as diverse as No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, Nick Zinner and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, post-everything outfit the Blood Brothers and mixmaster Tommie Sunshine. The entire dance-punk scene of the early ’00s was practically predicated on the band’s output (Consider the Rapture’s “House Of Jealous Lovers”).
Read more: Henry Rollins’ 20 favorite punk albums
Over the course of 10 full-length albums and numerous personnel changes, Gill continued to explore the context of his playing within other realms. The band’s last album, 2019’s Happy Now, found them immersing themselves in electronics with dance grooves assimilating the guitars. The pointed politics remained as well, as evidenced on “Ivanka (Things You Can’t Have).”
New listeners seeking knowledge may be best served by turning up your devices/stereos and clicking the link below. Because the evident truth is Gill’s playing is not something you should be reading about. You need to feel it.
Our deep condolences to his family, band and fans.