Andy Gill, a guitarist renowned for his sharp, inverted approach to the instrument who founded the post-punk group Gang Of Four and later became a respected producer, died in a London hospital Feb. 1 from a respiratory illness, the group announced in a statement. He was 64.
As a co-founder of the implacably political Gang Of Four, which formed in Leeds in the late 1970s, Gill's influence on the silhouette of rock and roll was deep and transformative; if the prevailing winds of style zigged, Gill and his co-founding bandmates—bassist Dave Allen, drummer Hugo Burnham and singer Jon King—could already be found zagging. "Instead of guitar solos, we had anti-solos, where you just stopped playing, left a hole," Gill says in Rip It Up and Start Again, a history of post-punk by Simon Reynolds.
On its canonical 1979 debut, Entertainment!, Gang Of Four gave the frenzied sound of punk some breathing room; as Burnham and Allen provided the music's danceable muscles, Gill's staticky, stabbing lines—partially inspired by pub-rock group Dr. Feelgood and its guitarist, Wilko Johnson—were the tendons, anchoring and enabling. (Something was in the water in the north of England in 1979—just south of Gang Of Four's birthplace, Joy Division was releasing its own, drastically different, expansion of punk's signature squall.)
On the single "To Hell With Poverty!" released in 1981, a long, punitive screech from Gill becomes a slap-punch of a passage, before Allen and Burnham jump in at an oblique angle, shaping Gill's tinny tizzy into a stomping boogie. The lyrics' central couplet, "To hell with poverty / We'll get drunk on cheap wine," encapsulates the grain-of-salt political satire that animated and grounded the band.