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Alan Vega dead: Suicide band singer dies at 78

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Lex van Rossen/Redferns

Alan Vega of the electronic punk duo Suicide has died. He was 78.

Henry Rollins made the announcement of Vega’s passing Saturday on his website with a statement from Vega’s family. “With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away,” it read in part. “Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16.”

“One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art,” the family noted. “He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.

“Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art,” the statement continued. “The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth — this was Alan Vega.”

Vega teamed up with instrumentalist Martin Rev to form Suicide in 1970, and the band’s self-titled album release in 1977 became a landmark of electronic music. “We started like sculptors,” Rev told The Guardian of crafting the album. “With a big piece of stone, pure clay, pure sound, big lumps of sound. We started from scratch, and then out of that we carved out the songs.”

Bruce Springsteen covered Suicide’s 1979 single “Dream Baby Dream” on his album High Hopes. “I’ve liked Suicide for a long time,” he told Mojo magazine. “I met the guys late in the ’70s in New York City when we were in the studio at the same time. You know, if Elvis came back from the dead, I think he would sound like Alan Vega.”

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Vega suffered a heart attack and a stroke in 2012, but the duo continued performing with gigs at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, David Lynch’s Silencio club in Paris, and Webster Hall in New York. 

“Things have looked up – things are looking great, so far,” Vega said last year. “If it doesn’t work, f–k it anyway.” 

Vega is survived by his wife, Liz, and son, Dante. Rollins will air a special installment Sunday of his KCRW radio show to celebrate “the great man’s work.” 

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