James Chance Has Died; Cause Of Death

A no wave colossus...

No Wave saxophonist and band leader James Chance has died.

A key member of Teenage Jesus & The Jerks during New York’s late 70s no wave movement, James Chance later formed a number of groups of his own, blending James Brown funk with punk energy, and lashings of the warehouse free jazz scene. News of his passing was confirmed overnight on his Facebook page, with his family posting a statement.

“His death was announced by his brother David Siegfried of Chicago, who did not specify a cause of death but noted that the musician’s health had been in decline for several years,” the statement said. 

“His final live performance is believed to have taken place in March 2019 in Utrecht, The Netherlands,” according to the statement.

An incredible live performer, James Chance was capable of blending confrontational art with peel-the-paint-from-the-walls free jazz. His slim catalogue comes close to capturing this larger-than-life presence, often starting fights with audience members – one of whom was, according to myth, the music writer Robert Christgau.

Born in Milwaukee, he was drawn to New York during the white heat of the punk explosion, finding a home alongside room mate Lydia Lunch. Dominating the emerging downtown scene with their explosive personas, the two performed in Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, appearing on the seminal Brian Eno produced ‘No New York’ LP.

Later performing with a variety of his own groups – notably the Contortions, and James White & The Blacks – he was cherished by the New York avant garde, appearing on a Blondie track in the process.

Rediscovered by a fresh generation of tastemakers, James White reunited with some of the original Contortions line-up in 2001, playing at All Tomorrow’s Parties twice.

Rest in power.

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