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RIP Devo's Bob Casale

by Annie Zaleski

RIP Devo's Bob Casale

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On February 17, Robert "Bob" Casale -- a founding member of Devo -- passed away from heart failure. He was 61. While the guitarist/keyboardist was frequently called "Bob2" in liner notes (thanks to the presence of vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh's brother Bob), the contributions he made to the Akron, Ohio, synth-punk pioneers were immeasurable.

With his brother Gerald, he cowrote the early tune "I'm a Potato," a vegetable reference that soon became integral to the Devo mythology, from the potato suits the band wore on the cover of 1982's Oh No! It's Devo to the colloquial name given to the band's fans ("spuds"). In fact, Gerald once told an interviewer, "The potato is a symbol of our humble beginnings." But Bob Casale was also a steadying presence who provided rhythmic and textural backbone on some of Devo's best-known early hits ("Girl U Want," "Through Being Cool," "Whip It") and more futuristic later work; in fact, he cowrote the freewheeling "Please Baby Please" on Devo's last studio album, Something for Everybody.

As a producer/engineer, Casale worked on albums by eclectic popsmith David Byrne, punk lifers the Vandals and offbeat synth-pop act Martini Ranch, bringing a crisp but quirky sensibility to their individual styles. And for many years, he and Mothersbaugh collaborated on music at the latter's Mutato Muzika music production company. Here, take a listen to the highlights of Bob Casale's career with this Devo-heavy playlist.

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