Devo’s Bob Casale, affectionately known as Bob 2, died a year ago today at the age of 61. Though the iconic Ohio band has carried on after his death, enlisting the talents of Boston’s Josh Hager to help fill Bob 2’s void, a cloud of sadness still hangs over the world of Devo.
This morning, co-founder Gerald Casale penned a letter on the one-year anniversary of his brother’s death, which you can read in full below. It was originally posted on the Devo Facebook page about an hour ago…
THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF BOB 2’S PASSING
The cliché that time heals all wounds is simply not true when it comes to Bob Casale’s untimely death; at least not for me.
The circumstances surrounding my brother’s death on February 17th, 2014 were strangely circumspect. He went to the emergency room because he was coughing up blood. They stabilized him and suggested to Lisa, his wife, and Alex and Samantha, his son and daughter that they could go home while the technicians performed some tests including an MRI to try to establish a root cause. That’s when things turned upside down.
According to the attending doctor on call Bob “became agitated”. They reduced his anxiety with medication but supposedly his blood pressure dropped unexpectedly so he was administered Epinephrine. From there the records really make little sense as to how they decided to put him on a ventilator while they tried to stabilize his blood pressure. When they proceeded to re-start his heart and restore breathing they failed.
It was all so wrong and shocking. I was overcome with anger and disbelief. I had just spoken with him 2 days earlier and all was fine. He was excited that in June we were going to finally perform the Hardcore Devo songs we had not performed in 30 odd years. Bob was not a drug abuser and no definitive cause of death was ever established other than heart failure – a result of medical procedures, not an initial cause of treatment. Suing the hospital was deemed a dead-end by medical advisors we consulted.
My anger and shock has turned to an overwhelmingly deep sadness one year later. I miss Bob now more than ever. He was a good soul, a dedicated husband and father and one of the original 5 gears of Devo. He was slow to anger and suffered stoically. He provided balance in a band driven by two sets of brothers, content to play the anchor rather than vie for ego-driven attention.
Bob’s many talents extended far beyond his ability to play guitar and keyboards performing live with the rest of Devo. He was an astute technician and an experienced audio engineer. He was quick-witted, funny and shared significantly in Devo’s creative cosmology. He gave much more than he took from the band’s success.
In recent times he was my chief ally in keeping the promise and rightful legacy of Devo from being quashed by the oblivion of historical neglect. It was his idea to mount a tour based on Devo performing the songs we created prior to the pains and pitfalls of major record label success. The concerts were meant to re-affirm the art collective roots of Devo when the idea and the message we projected was more important than the individual cult of personality.
Although way too short and, unfortunately for Bob, months too late getting a green light on February 14th, 2014, the Hardcore Devo tour happened against all odds. Luckily my dogged efforts to film that tour as a memorial to Bob came to fruition.
So now on the eve of the commercial release of “Hardcore Devo Live” I reflect on the dark year I’ve weathered since Bob 2 went into another dimension. I’d like to think that he would approve of the merits of our performance in his absence.
Yours in Devolution,
Gerald V Casale/DEVO
Here’s Devo live in Boston back in 1988