Sunday, February 02, 2020

"I feel lucky to have been there"

The untimely death of Andy Gill at just the age of just 64 has inevitably sparked a host of tributes to him as a person, as a pioneer of the punk-funk style of guitar playing and as a key member of Gang Of Four, a band whose influence has resonated far more than their commercial success would suggest.

In much the same way that Daniel Dylan Wray told the story and celebrated the legacy of Sheffield's post-punk scene in December, Dave Simpson spoke to some of the central protagonists in its Leeds equivalent back in April - Gill included. Gang Of Four and partners in crime Mekons were the product of a particular time and place, enthusiastically adopting the DIY ethic of first-wave UK punk and pushing it further. Their radical politics inevitably earned them both loyal friends and bitter enemies; Woody Guthrie may have made the metaphorical point that "This machine kills fascists", but Gill once literally used his guitar to clout a neo-Nazi.

It's worth noting that he also made his influence felt as a producer, and was at the controls for albums by The Jesus Lizard, The Futureheads and Killing Joke as well as those released by his own band. However, it would be great if everyone could please stop holding him personally responsible for Red Hot Chili Peppers - and not just because we shouldn't speak ill of the dead. He may have been on production duties for the band's self-titled debut, but he was frank in his assessment of 'Police Helicopter' - "Shit" - which made a nettled Anthony Kiedis and Flea feel like they were "working with the enemy".

No comments: