So if 2016 wasn’t wretched enough, we now learn about the passing of artist and musician Alan Vega (1938 – 2016).
Alan Vega was best known as a member of the experimental band Suicide. Their self-titled album is now considered groundbreaking. Suicide was influential figure to many New Wave, Punk, Post-Punk, early Goth and Industrial acts. The list goes on like a roll call: Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Devo, Joy Division/New Order, Sonic Youth, Big Black, D.A.F., Nick Cave, Ministry…the list goes on. They even left an impression on Bruce Springsteen. Today, Suicide’s impact can still be felt with the post-Electronica set, and bands like Radiohead.
Suicide‘s songs such as Frankie Teardrops has been covered numerous times. Here’s a cover of ‘Ghostrider’ done by Marc Almond of Soft Cell (Marc mentions Suicide being an influence in his autobiography) and Clint Ruin, otherwise known as Jim Thrilwell, Wiseblood, or Foetus.
It was one of his influences Henry Rollins, that broke the news of Vega’s passing.
When I was a teen just getting into underground music culture, I saw Alan Vega do a solo gig. He was opening up for a band, in which the name escapes me at the moment. It was at The Ritz, which is now known as Webster Hall, in NYC. This was sometime during the mid-1980s. When he was performing, I had no clue who he was. Now I consider myself lucky to have seen him live.
As of this blog posting of July 17th, 2016, if ones does a quick internet search, you can find out more about Vega and Suicide. Right now I’m going to focus on when Vega worked with members of the Goth band Sisters of Mercy.
In 1986, Sisters frontman Andrew Eldritch decided to create a new side project. Entangled with a lot of red tape and personality conflicts between the other members Sister of Mercy, The Sisterhood was created.
Long story short, somehow Alan Vega along with Patrica Morrison (later to join the second version of Sisters of Mercy) got involved with Eldritch’s version of The Sisterhood. The single “Giving Ground” was released in 1986.
According to Wikipedia: “Alan Vega gets a credit on the album cover but it remains unknown whether he made any contributions to the recording. He was possibly part of the “Chorus of Vengeance” on the track “Rain from Heaven”.
Regardless of whether Vega did or did not contribute to The Sisterhood. It was still an acknowledgment of Vega’s impact on the Goth sound. In Goth clubs you can still hear this song being played.
The beautiful thing about Vega was he lived life on his own terms. Especially now since that philosophy is becoming more of a luxury in today’s corporate era.
“I like performers who I know are for real. You can tell, man, there’s an intensity about their stuff. You can tell right away they’re real people, ya know?” – Alan Vega.