I was sadden to hear the news that Bob Casale, from Devo, passed away on Monday. I had been thinking of Devo over the weekend after seeing the Lego Movie, which has the unforgettable Mark Mothersbaugh-penned theme song “Everything is Awesome.”
Casale’s death, which follows last year’s passing of longtime drummer Alan Myers, also made me think of my introduction to Devo’s music. As I remember it, in 1977 I was listening to Kent State’s radio station WKSU (I thought listening to college radio would be a good way to get ready to going to college) and heard Devo’s re-interpretation of the Rolling Stones‘ “Satisfaction.” It was like a bizarre transmission from alternative universe (“Satisfaction” was an early single before they did their EP for Stiff Records) that no one else who I knew had ever heard of. I would hear the song occasionally on the station, like a blip on a radar. Hearing what they did to that classic rock song really spun my head around about rock music.
By the next year, the next year, they had released their breakout Warner Brothers debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! and the secret was out. But I can still remember that mind altering thrill of hearing that song for the first time.
Here is a 1977 concert clip, from youtube, of Devo having their way with “Satisfaction” (the video quality isn’t great but what do you expect from an recording done then at Max’s Kansas City, according to the description).