Devo is an American rock band that formed in 1973, consisting of members from Kent and Akron, Ohio. Their classic line-up consisted of two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs (Mark and Bob) and the Casales (Gerald and Bob), along with Alan Myers. The band had a No. 14 Billboard chart hit in 1980 with the single "Whip It" and has maintained a cult following throughout its existence.
Devo's music and stage show mingle kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor, and mordantly satirical social commentary. Their often discordant pop songs feature unusual synthetic instrumentation and time signatures that have proven influential on subsequent popular music, particularly new wave, punk rock, industrial, and alternative rock artists. Devo was also a pioneer of the music video, creating many memorable clips for the LaserDisc format, with "Whip It" getting heavy airplay in the early days of MTV.
The name Devo comes "from their concept of 'de-evolution' — the idea that instead of continuing to evolve, mankind has actually begun to regress, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society." In the late 1960s, this idea was developed as a joke by Kent State University art students Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis, who created a number of satirical art pieces in a devolution vein.
The first form of Devo was the "Sextet Devo" which performed at the 1973 Kent State performing arts festival. It included Casale, Lewis and Mothersbaugh, as well as Gerald's brother Bob Casale on guitar, and friends Rod Reisman and Fred Weber on drums and vocals, respectively. This performance was filmed and a part was included on the home video The Complete Truth About De-Evolution. This line-up performed only once. Devo returned to perform in the Student Governance Center (featured prominently in the film) at the 1974 Creative Arts Festival with a line-up including the Casale brothers, Bob Lewis, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Jim Mothersbaugh on drums.
Browse our unique collection of Devo photos and prints below
Devo were much appreciated by a British audience who did their best to dress like the band at gigs. This was taken in London, 1979.
Devo relaxing in deckchairs in Hyde Park in 1980 before their gig at the Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park that evening.