Rober Quine, R.I.P.
June 7, 2004 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Another member of the Blank Generation lost. Robert Quine was found dead in his apartment in NYC yesterday, he committed suicide. He was sixty years old and had played with Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Lou Reed, Matthew Sweet, Lloyd Cole, Materia, Brian Eno and others, he also cut an LP with Jody Harris (Escape), and one with Fred Maher (Basic). It has been reported that he was suffering depression brought on by the death of his wife Alice last August. Robert also recorded the Velvet Underground on a hand held cassette deck, the highlights were issued last year as The Quine Tapes a three CD set. Personally, I'll always remember him from the jagged guitar parts from Richard Hell and Voidoids' "Blank Generation", which were the only guitar parts that I ever bothered to learn and faithfully reproduce note for note in the many times my band covered the song. Condolences to those that survive him.
posted by psmealey (18 comments total)
He was part of Lou Reed's band on The Blue Mask, which was one of his better efforts in the early 80s. Lotsa good noise on some songs.
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:05 AM on June 7, 2004

Reed's efforts, I mean.
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:06 AM on June 7, 2004

He was a fantastic player, with an angular sound that was truly unique. Did his best playing with Richard Hell, but I also really loved his playing on Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend album.
posted by m'die at 9:17 AM on June 7, 2004

In Waves of Fear (from Lou Reed's The Blue Mask) he made one of the most intense guitar performances that I have ever seen.

And now that I remember, that was my first rock concert... (it was The Blue Mask tour, I was 17).

Sad to learn he choosed to die.
posted by samelborp at 9:51 AM on June 7, 2004

wtf is the "blank" generation? (i swear, you kids and your dumbass classifications!) Quine is 9 years older than i, and i'm a "boomer". wtf?
posted by quonsar at 9:59 AM on June 7, 2004

Q: It's not an "generation" designation like Boomer or Gen X or whatever -- it's specifically a reference to the late 70's NYC music scene, although I don't know how commonly the term is used.

Here's a googled history, in bonus an eye searing HTML colors

The reference is a song by the Voidoids, which you can hear a sample of in the The Voidoids link in the post above.
posted by malphigian at 10:10 AM on June 7, 2004

The "Blank Generation" was a song written by Richard Hell and the Voidoids that appeared on their album of the same name in 1977. It was a term, that entered into the hipster lingua franca I think ten years later (there were a bunch of biographies in the 80s and 90s using some variation of it as a title) to describe the CBGB's / Max's Kansas City scene of the 1970s. Generally useed to include folks like Sam Shepard, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, ex-New york Dolls, Dave Johansen, Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, and bands like Television, the Dead Boys.
posted by psmealey at 10:14 AM on June 7, 2004

Lester Bangs (of course) (no relation) did a big long piece on what the Blank Generation is, or isn't. His conclusion was that not even R. Hell himself knew wtf the Blank Generation really was. But Quine took it, Quonsar left it. Each time.

Like all great sidemen, Quine will not be given the appreciation he was due for the work he did. But when he's playing on a song, you knew it. Hear him on a couple of things, and his style is truly distinctive and electric.

While it is sad to see him choose death, I'm grateful that he was around for as long as he was, and I'll always remember him for the fierce joy he poured through his instrument.
posted by chicobangs at 10:22 AM on June 7, 2004

thanks for the edumacational info, malphigian and psmealy! us cantankerous old knobs confuse easily!
posted by quonsar at 10:26 AM on June 7, 2004

Let's give props to Mr. Quine... Whatta great sound he had. And let's not forget his fine work with James White/James Chance, this for example .
posted by micropublishery at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2004

Death comes in spurts // Oh no, it hurts!

Seriously, this is very sad news and this is the only obit thread I've ever been moved to contribute. Hope he's in a more peaceful place.
posted by dhoyt at 10:50 AM on June 7, 2004

For those curious about the lack of unsubstantiated info on pmeasley's first link, it looks like Billboard is reporting the story, too.
posted by dhoyt at 12:57 PM on June 7, 2004

thanks, dhoyt. I learned this news this am from a friend who was an acquaintance of Robert's and then saw it corroborated on At that point a Google search yielded nothing on it. Thanks for posting the follow-up link to the story on BillBoard.
posted by psmealey at 1:11 PM on June 7, 2004

No problem. Originally, I was optimistic that the lack of corroborating news stories could've meant the whole thing was just a hoax or a misunderstanding. At least heroin OD is a painless way to go, I can only assume.
posted by dhoyt at 1:27 PM on June 7, 2004

FYI, on the "blank" generation - it's the title of Richard Hell & the Voidoids' classic album, on which Quine made his debut.

As a concept, Richard revealed in an interview with Lester Bangs that it referred to his generation's ability to reinvent itself. (Hell changed his name and ripped his T-shirt, and suddenly he was a different person.) By filling in the blank oneself, one is free to remake oneself into a form with which one can be completely comfortable. Only then can true human communication begin, free of distracting self-consciousness.

Yeah. Buy the album.
posted by bingbangbong at 1:32 PM on June 7, 2004

It's not an "generation" designation like Boomer or Gen X or whatever -- it's specifically a reference to the late 70's NYC music scene, although I don't know how commonly the term is used.

Funny, I see just the other way around. A term like "Baby Boomer" is meaningless, except as marketing drivel. Everybody in a 23-year span is somehow similar? Bullshit.

But the term Blank Generation faithfully described many of the folks (like me) who came of age in the mid to late '70s, and not just in lower Manhattan.

And it was seeing Hell + the Voidoids at CBGB's, and the ethos of the Blank Generation, that made me go start my own band and get on that stage myself.

Robert Quine was great. I recently bought the 2-disc CD set from Hell's web site, the set with Time and a bunch of noisey live stuff. Quine really made the band special.

Shit, them days were great.
posted by Ayn Marx at 2:10 PM on June 7, 2004

This post has sparked some discussion about music of the era on AskMe.
posted by caddis at 7:54 AM on June 8, 2004

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