“I like performers who I know are for real. You can tell, man, there’s an intensity about their stuff. You can tell right away they’re real people, ya know?”—Alan Vega.
In 1970, armed with a pioneering vision and minimalist electronic instrumentation, Alan Vega and Martin Rev joined forces to create the uncompromising proto-punk band Suicide.
The duo, who took its name from the title of a Ghost Rider comic book, would go on to establish the early formations of the New York City punk movement with a series of violent, chaotic and radical live performances with Vega on the microphone.
Vega, remembering the early days of the band, once stated: “We started getting booed as soon as we came onstage. Just from the way we looked they started giving us hell already.” That didn’t hold them back though, quite the contrary, it spurred them on with a prolific drive.
In 1977 Suicide would release their self-titled debut album, a harsh and brutal reflection of urban life which melded multiple genres of outsider music and did so with great effect. With Rev on the electronics and Vega delivering his snarling rock and roll vocals, Suicide opened their record with ‘Ghost Rider’, a track now synonymous with the band.
Touring the record, Suicide’s shows would become descend into aggressive verbal assaults between the crowd and Vega who, stirring the emotion, would be unrelenting in his on-stage demeanour. Below, watch footage of a live show from 1977 as the Suicide frontman stars blank-eyed back at the crowd, muttering the words of ‘Ghost Rider’ with intermittent spits of aggression.