Devo : Punk NEO Sound - Akron

For a few short years in the late 1970s, Akron, Ohio was known as the "Liverpool of the Midwest" -- Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo was partially responsible for the moniker

DevoRock & Roll Hall of Fame


When asked what Akron, Ohio was like, Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh responded, "[I]t's a factory town, overcast, rains a Liverpool." Rather than comparing the gritty, industrial character of the cities, some journalists took it to mean Akron had a music culture like 1960s Liverpool.

Music agents flocked to the area expecting to sign the next big new wave or punk band. Bands, such as Devo, Tin Huey, the Bizarros, and the Waitresses signed major record deals, while London label, Stiff Records, put out The Akron Compilation album. 

DevoRock & Roll Hall of Fame


The members of Devo included two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs: cofounder, lead vocalist and keyboardist Mark and lead guitarist "Bob 1," and the Casales: cofounder and bass player Jerry and keyboardist / rhythm guitarist "Bob 2," along with drummer Alan Myers.

Devo took their name from the concept of "De-evolution." De-evolution posits the regression of mankind, as  evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society.

Jerry Casale of Devo (November 1978) by Larry SchorrRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Jerry Casale of Devo, 1978

Jerry Casale believed de-evolution was proven by events that unfolded on May 4, 1970, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on protesting Kent State students, killing four and wounding nine. One of the victims was friend Allison Krause, whom Casale was near when she was shot.

Booji Boy, Then by Jeff RusnakRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Booji Boy, Then

Pronounced "Boogie Boy," Booji Boy is a character, portrayed by Mark Mothersbaugh, created in the early 1970s by Devo. Mothersbaugh used the character as satirical commentary on de-evolution and the infantilism of Western culture.

Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh of Devo (c.1980) by Jeff RusnakRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Devo, c.1979

The yellow jumpsuits worn by the band go back to their earliest performances in 1977.

Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo (c.1979) by Jeff RusnakRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh of Devo, c.1980

During the group's live shows, Mark Mothersbaugh would tear off everyone's yellow jumpsuits to reveal the black gym clothes pictured here. The red poncho and knee pads, also seen here, were part of another uniform that spelled out the band name.

Official Music Video for Devo's "Whip It" (1980) by DevoRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Official Video for Devo's "Whip It," 1980

"Whip It," from Devo's third album Freedom of Choice, peaked at Number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video features Devo in their now-iconic red Energy Dome hats.

Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo (1980) by Jeff RusnakRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, 1980

The white jumpsuit and Energy Dome was featured in Devo's 1980 Freedom of Choice tour.

Booji Boy, Now by Jeff RusnakRock & Roll Hall of Fame

Booji Boy, Now

Mark Mothersbaugh continues to use the Booji Boy character in shows as recently as 2010 to perform "Beautiful World." Booji Boy also appears in the music video, watching increasingly darker images on a screen, from blooming flowers and dancing women, to wars, famine, and finally, a nuclear blast.

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