Sorry, this is what you think it is.
February 1, 2020 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Andy Gill, guitarist and founding member of legendary post-punk band Gang of Four, has died today following a short respiratory illness. I'm sorry, it's true. Andy Gill has left this plane for points further afield. You can dig into the gory details here. I remember the first time I saw the cover of The Gang of Four's Entertainment album. I was shocked by the naked truth of the text that promised hard biting commentary, vicious satire, and a musical attack that would match it. I did not expect it to be danceable as well.

Here's a you tube link to Gang of Four.

And Spotify


Apple Music

Google Play

And Amazon

I can't help feeling that Andy would be a little disappointed in us listening on these commercial services and would be happy about those who might perhaps pirate it.
Not that I would ever suggest such a thing.
posted by evilDoug (56 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Butter before guns.
posted by kewb at 10:40 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]

Long Live Supreme Leader.
To Hell With Poverty, we'll get drunk on cheap wine.
posted by Harry Caul at 10:41 AM on February 1 [8 favorites]

posted by Thorzdad at 10:45 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]

Those first two albums and associated EPs (which he co-produced) are some of the most powerful released. And what a phenomenal stylist he was--one of those people so many namechecked as influential but almost nobody copied (which is really something that could be said for Gang of Four as a whole, really).
posted by Palindromedary at 10:48 AM on February 1 [5 favorites]

I saw them live back in the 80's at Club Foot in Austin. Singer Jon King played what I can only describe as a large piece of metal banged on with an iron mallet. That, along with the throbbing guitar of Gill made for an amazing musical experience.

posted by jabo at 10:57 AM on February 1 [6 favorites]

posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:58 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]

He produced one of my favorite 00s albums, The Futureheads' first, The Futureheads.

posted by droplet at 11:03 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


One of my all time favorite bands. The problem of leisure.
posted by mwhybark at 11:20 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]

when I bought entertainment at Newbury comics in the early 90s the cashier told me "you're in for a treat!"

posted by brujita at 11:20 AM on February 1 [8 favorites]

And I feel like a beetle on its back
And there's no way for me to get up
Love will get you like a case of anthrax
And that's one thing I don't want to catch.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:26 AM on February 1 [9 favorites]

Saw them in '85 at First Avenue.

They shredded

posted by Windopaene at 11:29 AM on February 1 [5 favorites]

posted by cazoo at 12:06 PM on February 1

I always felt a little embarrassed that my favorite Gang of Four song was also their one true crossover single. But I will always love "I Love A Man In A Uniform."
posted by HunterFelt at 12:33 PM on February 1 [12 favorites]

posted by From Bklyn at 12:34 PM on February 1

posted by young_simba at 12:40 PM on February 1

The first and greatest of the punk funk bands.

posted by jonp72 at 12:48 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

posted by Cash4Lead at 12:52 PM on February 1

posted by gimonca at 12:55 PM on February 1

posted by SystematicAbuse at 12:59 PM on February 1

Shit. I love The Gang of Four and Andy Gill's insane guitar playing. One of the best gigs I ever saw was the Gang of Four at the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town in 1979.
I saw them a few years ago in San Francisco, and he was just the same.

Sometimes guitarists say they never use the bridge pickup and I tell them they are doing it wrong and I make them listen to "At Home He's a Tourist". So much treble. So many sparks flying.
posted by w0mbat at 1:27 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]

Oooooooooooooh, oh - oh - oh - oww!

So groundbreaking, blew my little mind back in the day. Still so fresh.

posted by whuppy at 1:37 PM on February 1

Gang of 4 were a huge political and artistic inspiration for my sweetheart. The news hit like a favorite professor dying. That he died on Brexit Day—when we really need Gang of 4—makes this worse somehow.

posted by pxe2000 at 1:45 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

As an electric guitarist, he was the one I identified with the most. He played as if the electric guitar was a source of frustration and a fun noisemaker — so he scraped it, banged it, made it feed back. What a great sound.
posted by argybarg at 1:59 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


posted by soundguy99 at 2:36 PM on February 1

A friend (with whom I attended the first final Gang of Four gig, at the Hammersmith Palais in ... 1985? ... The support were The Europeans, I think, and a reggae band whose name I don't remember, but I do remember the bass player, a tiny woman with an enormous hair wrap and a stack that was larger than her, who made the whole place shake with every note and then the Gang of Four came on and the crowd just exploded, it was a bit like falling overboard from a ship in a stormy ocean) just messaged me to tell me the news, and I replied tastelessly with "Gang of None, then?"

It's a shame that my favourite footage of Gang of Four isn't on YouTube (or anywhere as far as I can tell apart from a Betamax tape on my shelf and I don't think there are any functioning Betamax machines anywhere) - the version of He'd Send In the Army they played on The Old Grey Whistle Test. To Hell With Poverty from the same session is, and He'd Send In the Army from Urgh! A Music War, but that lost Whistle Test version was a constant inspiration to me - almost unbearable tension and sudden violent release - scary stuff. And Jon must have really hated flight cases.

Gill deliberately, consciously and intelligently turned all the expectations of "the guitar hero" on its head - no macho posturing, no wailing solos - but not in the anti-musician punk way that was popular at the time. If a punk guitarist is a hammer, Gill was all knives.
posted by Grangousier at 2:43 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]

You must be joking, oh man you must be joking...


(He needed to be protected.)
posted by progosk at 2:45 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I even liked Hard. The production is probably a bit light and eighties, but the songs underneath are as good as ever.
posted by Grangousier at 2:45 PM on February 1

Well, this stinks.

{Thanks Andy, for your talents}

posted by but no cigar at 2:46 PM on February 1

posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 3:12 PM on February 1

Privileged to have seen him play. The anti-guitar guitar hero. Played it like he was trying to send us telegrams from another dimension. And if someone - anyone - came up with that sound today they'd be hailed as a genius. Gill was one of a kind. No single dot for him. As best as I can approximate his sound:
. . .. . ....... . ... . .........
posted by tim_in_oz at 3:47 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]

posted by Kattullus at 4:25 PM on February 1

Wow! Here it is! Knives.
posted by Grangousier at 5:20 PM on February 1 [8 favorites]

posted by halliburtron at 5:26 PM on February 1

Yeah, that's worth watching Grangousier

As an aspiring electric guitarist... Wish I could make those sounds.
posted by Windopaene at 5:35 PM on February 1

posted by gtrwolf at 5:44 PM on February 1

You know, at the time I don’t think I ever thought about him inspiring Ginn, or Boon, or Jaz, - or even later, Albini for sure - but without his stuff, it becomes much harder to imagine their approach to the instrument, all that jagged noise and silence. Back then, I did, very much, hear Mission of Burma as indebted to GoF, and I suppose I could hear how they informed what Boon and Watt were doing. But man. Thinking about it today, it’s his stuff, his example. I mean, fucking Billy Bragg’s first releases are unsparingly devoted to raw guitar takes. And even Billy Childish, for christ’s sake, who might well take issue with this view, uses raw, direct play and halted, staccato chording in his earliest material!

I’m bummed out.
posted by mwhybark at 6:06 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]

posted by Joey Michaels at 6:22 PM on February 1

The best description I've heard of his guitar playing is "angular". Saw them on tour in Houston when Sara Lee was playing bass. An awesome show.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 6:41 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

Saw them at a former roller rink, Seattle, early 1980’s. Ears rang for days. Worth it.
posted by baseballpajamas at 6:48 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

posted by Woodroar at 9:50 PM on February 1

I saw Gang of Four one and a half times within the last 15 years or so; those were the only times I got to see them play despite having been a fan for a long time.

So great.

"Damaged Goods" rattled something loose in me when I first heard it as a teenager (in the late eighties) and it still hits me like that every time.
posted by desuetude at 10:01 PM on February 1

The later, reincarnated version of Go4 FINALLY played in my little town; it remains one of my all-time favorite shows.

A couple fond memories:
1) Bumping into Sara Lee at the bar.
2) When they played "To Hell With Poverty," the audience treated it as a sing-along.

Which was genuinely heart-warming.

So long, Mr. Gill, and thanks. You will be missed.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:16 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]

Well, dammit.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:01 AM on February 2

Such an amazing guitarist. And combined with the lyrics that band was just explosive.

He was one of the most brilliant of the “anti-guitarists”: arto lindsay, paul metzger, mark ribot in his most ‘out’ moments.
posted by umbú at 6:11 AM on February 2

as so many have observed above - this is hitting me like a case of anthrax

posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 6:56 AM on February 2


As grumpy old geek mentioned, the sound of Gang of Four is best described as angular. (I think we probably read the same author at one point...)

Their music is as jarring as the idea of trying to understand how a guitar (and band) can sound angular. It is nonsense until you hear it. Then... bam. It makes sense, at the same time it does not make sense.

I came late to the Gang of Four because of my age, but I will already miss Andy Gill.

posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 9:29 AM on February 2

(Parenthetically, this gamelan cover of Not Great Men is sweet)
posted by stonepharisee at 12:31 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Welp, there goes another one of my major musical influences. Glad I saw them when I could.

I never do this, but...

posted by MysticMCJ at 7:24 PM on February 2


Had the pleasure and luck to see them live twice.

The first was with Jon singing and the show was much better than I had dared to hope, they kicked ass for a sold out crowd of 900. It's somewhere on my all time best shows list.

The second show was with the new singer, smaller crowd, they tried hard but it was rough and the magic was fleeting. I spotted one of my favourite guitarists in the crowd, BIll Napier-Hemy (Pointed Sticks). On the way out after the show I ended up standing next to Bill, we made eye contact and he reviewed the night perfectly, "still great songs though".
posted by Cosine at 10:43 PM on February 2

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posted by PippinJack at 11:09 AM on February 3

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