Alan Vega was an American singer/songwriter, and visual artist, primarily known for his work with his electronic proto-punk duo Suicide. Vega claimed to be half-Catholic, due to his mother's Puerto Rican ancestry. Themes of Catholicism were abundant in his lyrics and visual art over the years.  

A
lan studied physics and fine arts in collage, and later joined the Art Workers’ Coalition. This group pressured politicians to fund the co-op MUSEUM: A Project of Living Artists. It was an artist-run, 24-hour multimedia gallery in Manhattan, open to all artists and musicians for free. This was where Alan and Martin met, also working as salaried janitors there.

Alan shifted from painting to creating light sculptures, constructed with electronic debris. He was given gallery residencies in SoHo, where he continued to work into the 80s. Everything changed in 1969, seeing the Stooges perform an opening show for the MC5. 

Marty had a Farfisa organ lying around, they began buying and hooking up used $10 dollar effects pedals. Eventually, they bought a drum machine and began experimenting. Suicide played at the MUSEUM, and moved on to the OK Harris Gallery, they then performed at the Mercer Arts Center, Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’s.

Easy, right? Wrong.

LEFT: Photo © Alan Vega

They were hated. No drums or guitars, Marty did the beats while Alan did his Iggy /James Brown thing, got in people’s faces, jumped on tables, knocked over drinks, prompted fights. David Johansen of the New York Dolls was into it right away. 

Fights broke out at almost every show. The press ignored them, the hipsters didn’t get it. Suicide waited 6 years to get signed and record in a studio. When the first Suicide album was finally released in the US, there was almost no reaction. The Clash set up a UK tour and wanted an opening act. Mick Jones liked Suicide’s first album, so they joined the tour. Once again, all hell broke out at almost every show. The crowd hated them. It was as much confrontational performance art, as it was a performance.

The angry audience was horrifying.  Soaked in sweat, Alan initiated his Iggy Pop moves, broke a bottle, cut his cheek as the blood oozed out in gallons of gore.  The crowd backed off.  This became a ritual for staying alive. Suicide drew the blueprints for proto punk, analogue synth, funk, pop, rock, and psychobilly.  They achieved the recognition they so richly deserved, and as solo artists.  They hungered for it. They fought for it.

They bled for it.