Celebrated avant-garde guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died after losing his battle with throat cancer.
“Glenn Branca passed away in his sleep last night from throat cancer”, said Branca’s wife Reg Bloor, in a statement.
“I feel grateful to have been able to live and work with such an amazing source of ideas and creativity for the past 18 1/2 years. His musical output was a fraction of the ideas he had in a given day. His influence on the music world is incalculable.”
She added: “Despite his gruff exterior, he was a deeply caring and fiercely loyal man. We lived in our own little world together. I love him so much. I’m absolutely devastated.”
Branca founded New York band Theoretical Girls in 1976, before later branching out on his own to release 1981 experimental album The Ascension after the band’s split.
In 1982, he also established Neutral Records – which went on to release the first album from Sonic Youth after Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo were introduced to each other by Branca.
Although Branca largely remained an influential cult figure throughout his life, his talent was hailed by David Bowie – who included The Ascension on a list of his 25 favourite records.
“Over the years, Branca got even louder and more complex than this, but here on the title track his manifesto is already complete”, Bowie said of the record.
Responding to the news on Twitter, Thurston Moore simply wrote the title of Branca’s most famous record.
— Thurston Moore (@nowjazznow) May 15, 2018
Another tribute came from The 1975’s Matty Healy, who hailed Branca’s genius.
“RIP Glenn Branca. I’ll always remember hearing ‘The Spectatcualr Commodity’ for the first time. I’d never heard a guitar do anything like that. A Genuis [sic]”, he wrote.
John Lurie, founder of jazz ensemble The Lounge Lizards, wrote: “The X Magazine benefit in 1979 was perhaps the most amazing series of concerts that I have ever seen. Glenn Branca, playing with Theoretical Girls was the best band in the program. It changed my life. Sorry I never had a chance to tell him.”