Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans.
by Jon Davis, Published 2018-05-14
Branca was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1948, and started playing guitar as a teenager. While at York College in the 60s, he started his first band, and later moved to Boston to study theater. He moved to New York in 1976 intending to work in experimental theater, though he was also intrigued by the burgeoning punk scene.
He founded Neutral Records in 1982, releasing the first album by Sonic Youth, among other artists. He started composing for ensembles of electric guitars in the early 80s as well, starting with Lesson No. 1, and his first full length album was The Ascension (1981).
He invented a number of instruments to play his music, mostly electrified string instruments, and formed The Glenn Branca Ensemble to perform his works. He also composed for orchestra, though the electric guitar remained his primary focus.
In February 2015, Branca's second piece for 100 electric guitars, "Symphony No. 16 (Orgasm)", was premiered at Cité de la Musique in Paris. On May 14, 2018, his wife announced on Facebook that he had died of throat cancer.
Filed under: Obituaries
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more
(Tom Newman) - Variations on a Rhythm of Mike Oldfield - David Bedford – This is a four track EP, and is basically a Tom Newman album. It's confusing, I know. This is some of that stuff you know Oldfield and Co. did for laughs (when perhaps beer and worse entered the... (1998) » Read more
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Live at Bickershaw Festival - North West England 1972 – The front of the package proclaims "Joe Strummer's favourite concert." Well, I'm sure it was great to be there. The Captain and his crackshot '72 touring lineup (Rockette Morton,... (2008) » Read more