Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Obituary - Andy Gill

On Saturday 1 February 2020, Andy Gill - best known as guitarist and co-founder of GANG OF FOUR - passed away at a hospital in London, England. He was aged 64. The cause of death was pneumonia.
Gill was born Andrew James Dalrymple Gill on 1 January 1956 in Manchester, England.
It was while at school in Sevenoaks, Kent that Gill met the co-founder of the band he would become infamous with: future GANG OF FOUR vocalist Jon King. Finding a love of art, they both moved to Leeds to attend the progressive Fine Arts Department at the University. While there they both ran the student film society and adopted the guise of Situationists - a radical French group from the 60s which focused on the alienating effects of mass media and entertainment.
The seeds of an idea of forming a band were sown when the pair visited New York City and experienced the then fledgling Punk scene at CBGB’s (a trip actually funded by grants intended for their studies!). However, it was at the infamous Leeds pub, The Fenton, where the band took shape with the addition of bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. By 1977 the band had fully formed and were soon signed to Scottish independent Fast Product for the release of the ‘Damaged Goods’ single.
To get the band’s political message out there, they then signed to EMI for the single ‘At Home He’s A Tourist’ and the classic debut album, ‘Entertainment!’. Over the successive years, various members left, got replaced, and came back, while Gill remained the only constant on the following nine studio albums. He was reputedly working on mixes of a new album from his death bed, and planning another tour.
Throughout this period, Gill was also a record producer, and produced or co-produced all of the band's albums. He also produced albums for artists such as the THE STRANGLERS, KILLING JOKE, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, JESUS LIZARD And THERAPY? among others.
Gill is survived by his wife, journalist Catherine Mayer who he married in 1999, his brother Martin and "many family and elective family members who will miss him terribly" said the band in a press statement.

In all honesty, GANG OF FOUR didn’t quite resonate with me in the same voracious way that many of their contemporaries did. I have the first three albums and can see their influence throughout a myriad of bands (notably two disparate bands in FUGAZI and FRANZ FERDINAND), can appreciate that welding of politics, Punk, Funk and Dub and find Gill’s guitar playing to be not just inventive but iconoclastic in style. All of that considered, I still didn’t go and see the band play in Auckland, New Zealand in November 2019. Now, there is one gig I regret not attending...