Gang of Four share new song; Andy Gill’s widow points out COVID-19 may have killed him
The death of Gang of Four's Andy Gill earlier this year was listed as a "respiratory illness" at the time, and later, officially, as "pneumonia and organ failure," but his widow Catherine Mayer thinks he was a victim of COVID-19. In hindsight, the timing seems to fit, as do many of the surrounding details, such as the band's travel in China (although not Wuhan) in 2019, and cases of the virus in that sprung up around him. She discusses her findings in a post on her website, describing the symptoms of the virus he displayed:
Over the new year break and into the first weeks of this benighted decade, I observed changes in Andy now associated with those hit hardest by Covid-19: low oxygen, lethargy, diminished appetite. He assumed that the cold weather had exacerbated his sarcoidosis and insisted he would fare better at home than on a ward.
She continues, recounting her discussion with Gill's doctor:
On May 5th, a story broke. Researchers in France confirmed that they had found evidence of the virus in samples taken from Amirouche Hammar, a patient hospitalised north of Paris in December. Views on the time Covid-19 takes to incubate had also shifted; a man in Wuhan entered lockdown in apparent good health, exhibiting symptoms only after 27 days. I emailed Andy’s specialist again. “Do you think,” I wrote, “that there’s a possibility that Andy was an early victim of Covid-19? I cannot shake that suspicion.”
His answer winded me. “Your question is one that I asked myself more than six weeks ago,” he replied. “It seemed to me at the time of Andy’s illness that we had not fully understood why he deteriorated as he did. Once we learned more about Covid-19, I thought there was a real possibility that Andy had been infected by SARS-COV-2. I discussed this with colleagues in early March—I thought we should explore this further once we had the tools to answer the question such as reliable antibody tests. I did not want to contact you until and if I had a definite answer.”
She also points out that Gang of Four's tour manager for the 2019 shows in China, 26 years old, had been found with "respiratory distress so severe that the first hospital that admitted him quickly transferred him to the better-equipped 'Jimmy’s,' St James’s, Europe’s largest teaching hospital," in December, and was believed to have had coronavirus.
Read her whole post, with even more evidence, here.
Meanwhile, Gang of Four released This Heaven Gives Me Migraine, the EP Andy Gill was working on right up until his death, back in February, and now they have another EP on the way, Rolling Stone reports. It's called Anti Hero and it's due out on July 17, with cover art featuring a portrait of Gill designed by Shepard Fairey. "Gang of Four has been a profound inspiration for me because the band demonstrates that great art can powerfully merge pleasure and intellectual provocation," Fairey said in a statement. "I was devastated to hear of Andy Gill’s passing, but honored to make a portrait of him in the hope of creating an iconic image of one of my heroes — with apologies to Andy, to me he was a hero — to serve as a reminder that though life may be fleeting, Andy’s potent art and ideas will endure."
The first single is "Forever Starts Now," and you can listen to it below. Current vocalist John Sterry told Rolling Stone that he and Gill wrote the song as they were finishing up work on 2019's Happy Now. "We’d always seen something great in the track, been excited by it, and would bring up the fact we needed to finish it, after a glass of wine or midway through a game of pool on tour," he said. "Life kept intervening like that, and then, of course, the opposite of life, so we never did get to the final mix."
Other tracks on Anti Hero include reworked versions of "Change the Locks" and "Glass," both of which were finished at the time of Gill's passing. Proceeds from the EP and its singles will go to Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Charity, which supports St. Thomas,' the hospital where Gill received treatment.