When Devo peaked in 1980, a lot of fair weather fans dug them because the song Whip It was a hit, but they really didn’t understand the concept behind the band, and a lot of people dismissed them as idiots. The band played dumb, because their name was a reference to mankind getting dumber, but the band and their music were both a lot smarter than many realized.
Devo became a cartoon image version of what people thought of new wave: Silly costumes, robotic herky-jerky songs and dance moves. But the more I revisited their music in my later years, the better it got. Yes, when we think of the eighties, we often think of Devo because of their image, especially the flowerpot hats, but the music’s far better than a lot of eighties artists that fell by the wayside.
So it’s sad news to report that guitarist Bob Casale, brother of fellow band mate and video director Gerry Casale, passed away at the age of 61. As the band stated on their Facebook page, “Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning. He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got.”
In Bob’s memory, I highly recommend you go back to Devo’s music, and listen to it beyond the songs you already know, like Whip It and their cover of Satisfaction. Again, Devo’s music holds up remarkably well, and is much smarter than most people gave it credit for.