Richard H Kirk death: Cabaret Voltaire musician dies aged 65

Pioneering musician was an influence on Depeche Mode and New Order

Sam Moore
Tuesday 21 September 2021 17:23

Cabaret Voltaire musician Richard H Kirk has died at the age of 65.

His label, Mute, said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we confirm our great and dear friend, Richard H Kirk has passed away. Richard was a towering creative genius who led a singular and driven path throughout his life and musical career. We will miss him so much. We ask that his family are given space at this time.”

Cabaret Voltaire are credited with having an enormous influence on the electronic music scene and bands such as Depeche Mode and New Order.

The band formed in the early 1970s in Sheffield with Kirk joining Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson to make a trio.

Inspired by Roxy Music, Cabaret Voltaire were pioneers in industrial music throughout the 1970s and blended both punk and pop sensibilities together.

In their early days, the band were closely associated with Joy Division, who they would frequently share concert bills with.

Joy Division’s record label, Factory Records, had attempted to sign the band but Cabaret Voltaire instead went with Rough Trade, which was the home of The Smiths.

While they never received the commercial success of Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire’s work has always been held in high critical regard.

Bands such as Bauhaus, Skinny Puppy and Fluke have credited Cabaret Voltaire for influencing them.

After the band split in 1994, Kirk continued performing as a solo artist under a number of pseudonyms such as Sandoz and Electronic Eye.

He reformed Cabaret Voltaire in 2008 as the sole member and released two albums earlier this year. Dekadrone was released in March and Bn9drone a month later.

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Tributes have started to come in from a number of notable figures in music including former Hacienda DJ, Dave Haslem who tweeted: “Richard H Kirk has died. A creative genius indeed and a truly top fella. RIP.”

His former bandmate, Stephen Mallinder, also posted a tribute on Twitter: “I’m shattered. my Cabs music partner and often sparring partner, difficult to live with but impossible not to love. Stubborn, no sufferer of fools, but insightful, spontaneous, and with vision and underneath the spiky shell a warm heart. I’m truly devastated. RIP Kirky.”

No cause of death has been confirmed.

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