Tim Wright, Pere Ubu and DNA Bassist, Dead of Unknown Causes
No-wave pioneer passed away on August 4, according to Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas
Tim Wright, Pere Ubu’s original bassist and a member of influential New York no-wave band DNA, has died, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Pere Ubu frontman broke the news on Facebook: “Tim Wright died Sunday, August 4 2013, reports longtime partner Mary Ann Livchak. He was an original member of Pere Ubu and later a contributor to the No Wave scene of New York City.” His age and cause of death weren’t immediately announced.
Pere Ubu are still releasing albums — Lady From Shanghai came out earlier this year — but the Ohio art-punk heroes originally formed in 1975 out of the ashes of the band Rocket From the Tombs. Wright played on early singles “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” and “Final Solution,” as well as their respective B-sides, “Heart of Darkness” and “Cloud 149″.
Wright later joined DNA, a groundbreaking band from New York’s late-’70s no-wave scene that would have a profound impact on later bands such as Sonic Youth and Blonde Redhead (the latter of whom even take their name from a DNA song title). Although Wright wasn’t DNA’s original bassist, he signed on in time for the Arto Lindsay-led group’s landmark 1981 mini-album, A Taste of DNA.
The importance of Wright’s role in DNA can be heard, in fact, in A Taste of DNA’s “Blonde Red Head,” which incidentally happened to be covered by another newer artist, Dirty Beaches, last year. As the critic Marc Masters writes in his book No Wave, while the song was written before Wright came onboard, the Pere Ubu alum changed it significantly. “I decided to make it melodic, and almost danceable,” Wright says in the book. “There was a really odd chord progression; you wouldn’t believe how I had to stretch my fingers. I remember one night Robin [Crutchfield, DNA’s keyboardist] came to CBGB’s and asked Arto, ‘What’s that song?’ Arto says, ‘”Blonde Red Head,'” and Robin said, ‘That can’t be!'” (Lindsay, for the record, is one of SPIN’s 100 Greatest Guitars of All Time.)
Wright played with DNA until the group came to an end in 1982. Wright is also credited as contributing to the opening track of Brian Eno and David Byrne’s 1981 collaborative collage-funk milestone My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. According to the Plain Dealer, Wright continued to work as a songwriter, guest musician, studio engineer, and tour technician.
Listen to Pere Ubu’s “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” and DNA’s “Blonde Red Head” below.