It was a rough week for rock fans as we had to say goodbye to Corrosion of Conformity drummer Reed Mullin, former DRI bassist Josh Pappe, and Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill. Sadly no Republican senators died this week to balance these losses, but we hold out hope.
DRI formed in 1982 in Houston Texas before relocating to San Francisco. Josh Pappe had joined the band during the Violent Pacification era, but left temporarily and missed the recording of the band’s first landmark album, Dealing With It. Pappe returned for their next landmark album, Crossover, which was a major influence on a number of hardcore punk bands who “crossed over” to a thrash metal sound, while still retaining an essential “punk” attitude, unlike some punk bands who adopted a more Motley Crue feel (like TSOL). Other major crossover bands include SOD, Suicidal Tendencies, and Corrosion of Conformity. Pappe left the band after Four of a Kind to join Boston’s Gang Green. He was only 53.
Also formed in 1982, in Raleigh North Carolina, Corrosion of Conformity was a huge name in crossover. Reed Mullin, Mike Dean, and Woody Weatherman started as a hardcore punk band and Technocracy was their big crossover album, but it was 1989’s Blind, with the videos for ‘Vote With a Bullet’ and ‘Dance of the Dead,’ big Headbangers Ball staples, that made a name for the band. Mullin had been having health issues the last few years and had to miss the band’s last tour. He was 54.
Guitarist Andy Gill was one of the founding members of Britain’s Gang of Four. He played an angular, staccato, minimalist style that added so much personality and flavour to the band’s sound. Gang of Four formed in 1976 and stayed active off and on through the decades with Gill as the sole remaining original member. Their brand of punk mixed in elements of dub and funk and as they entered the 80s went in a more danceable direction, but with songs like ‘I Love a Man in Uniform,’ they held on to their acerbic edge. Kurt Cobain and Michael Stipe cited them as a major influence, and Flea called Gang of Four the “single most important influence” on the early Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound. Gill was 64. After giving it a lot of thought, this is my favourite Gang of Four song, ‘I Found That Essence Rare.’
Rest easy, boys. Thanks for the music.