R.I.P., Alan Myers

Alan Myers: 23 June 2013

Oh no – say it ain’t so! Alan Myers, drummer for the band DEVO on their big hit “Whip It,” passed away on Monday, 23 June after a long battle with cancer of the brain. The BBC reports:

“Alan Myers, the long-time drummer for the US new wave band Devo, has died, aged 58, after suffering from cancer.

Myers died on Monday in Los Angeles, the band said.

He was Devo’s drummer from 1976 to 1985, when they produced the influential album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, and released the hit Whip It.

One of the band’s two founders, Gerald Casale, called Alan Myers “the human metronome”.

“People watching him thought we were using a drum machine,” he told the Associated Press. “Nobody had ever drummed like that.”

Myers played on classic Devo tracks such as Mongoloid, Jocko Homo and the band’s minimalist version of The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction…

Myers, the band’s third drummer, played on Devo’s first seven albums, but was increasingly unfulfilled, according to the 2003 book We Are Devo!

“He could not tolerate being replaced by the Fairlight and autocratic machine music. I agreed,” tweeted Casale.

Myers parted company with Devo after their album, Shout, to pursue jazz and music “off the beaten path”, Mothersbaugh said, adding: “We always regretted it when he left.”

I absolutely loved their music and had two of their albums. Along with the Cars, Blondie, and Adam & the Ants, DEVO was my introduction to the genre known as New Wave, and I quickly became hooked on the style! For me, it was a way to express my quirky side musically – I wasn’t allowed to express it in dress, and ‘Mommy Dearest’ frowned upon any ‘unladylike’ behavior; one of many reasons I joined band and choir in high school, and along with that came being in school plays. But, I digress…this post is about DEVO and Alan Myers! From Wikipedia:

“The name “Devo” comes “from their concept of ‘de-evolution‘ – the idea that instead of continuing to evolve, mankind has actually begun to regress, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society.”[5] This idea was developed as a joke by Kent State University art students Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis as early as the late 1960s. Casale and Lewis created a number of satirical art pieces in a devolution vein. At this time, Casale had also performed with the local band 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band). They met Mark Mothersbaugh around 1970, who introduced them to the pamphlet “Jocko Homo Heavenbound”,[6] which includes an illustration of a winged devil labeled “D-EVOLUTION” and would later inspire the song “Jocko Homo“. However, the “joke” became serious, following the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970. This event would be cited multiple times as the impetus for forming the band Devo.

The first form of Devo was the “Sextet Devo” which performed at the 1973 Kent State performing arts festival.[7] It included Casale, Lewis and Mothersbaugh, as well as Gerald’s brother Bob Casale on guitar, and friends Rod Reisman and Fred Weber on drums and vocals, respectively. This performance was filmed and a part was included on the home video The Complete Truth About De-Evolution. This lineup only performed once. Devo returned to perform in the Student Governance Center (featured prominently in the film) at the 1974 Creative Arts Festival with a line-up including the Casale brothers, Bob Lewis, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Jim Mothersbaugh on drums.

Devo later formed as a quartet. They recruited Mark’s brothers Bob Mothersbaugh and Jim Mothersbaugh. Bob played electric guitar, and Jim provided percussion using a set of homemade electronic drums. Their first two music videos, “Secret Agent Man” and “Jocko Homo” featured on The Truth About De-Evolution, were filmed in Akron, the hometown of most members. This lineup of Devo lasted until 1976 when Jim left the band. The lineup was occasionally fluid, and Bob Lewis would sometimes play guitar during this period. In concert, Devo would often perform in the guise of theatrical characters, such as Booji Boy, and The Chinaman. Live concerts from this period were often confrontational, and would remain so until 1977. A recording of an early Devo performance from 1975 with the quartet lineup appears on DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years, ending with the promoters unplugging Devo’s equipment.

Following Jim Mothersbaugh’s departure, Bob Mothersbaugh found a new drummer in Alan Myers, who played with mechanical precision on a conventional, acoustic drum set. Casale re-recruited his brother Bob Casale, and the popular line-up of Devo was formed. It would endure for nearly ten years.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Myers – the “Human Metronome” has ceased keeping the beat, but will endure in the hearts and minds of all true music lovers. Enjoy some of my favourite DEVO songs…

Speed Racer

Whip It

Freedom of Choice

Peek-A-Boo!”

Beautiful World

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