December 9, 2023

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Pianist and Composer “Blue” Gene Tyranny Dead at 75

“Blue” Gene Tyranny, the pianist and composer who played with Iggy and the Stooges during their Raw Power tour, has died, The New York Times reports and Pitchfork can confirm. Tyranny died December 12 in hospice care in New York from diabetes complications. He was 75 years old. “Blue was a shining enigma of generosity and brilliance,” record label Unseen Worlds wrote in an Instagram post announcing his death. Find their full statement below.

Tyranny’s extensive work as an artist began at a young age; in high school, he curated contemporary-music concerts and performed works by avant-garde composers such as John Cage and Charles Ives. He was eventually invited to audition for Juilliard as a performance major, but did not follow through with a degree at the prestigious school, as he was more interested in composing.

In the mid-1960s, Tyranny played in the Prime Movers Blues Band with Iggy Pop (then known as Jim Osterberg). Years later, when Iggy and the Stooges released Raw Power, Tyranny joined the band on tour. In addition to his work with Iggy Pop, Tyranny has collaborated with jazz composer and arranger Carla Bley, Laurie Anderson, Bill Dixon, Peter Gordon, and more. Tyranny’s most well-known partnership was with composer Robert Ashley. The two worked together for years, most notably on 1979’s Just for the Record, and a number of Ashley’s operas, including Perfect Lives (Private Parts), Dust, and Celestial Excursions.

In 2012, Tyranny released Detours, his first album on Unseen Worlds. In 2019, Tyranny and Peter Gordon issued their collaborative record Trust in Rock on the label. Earlier this year, filmmaker David Bernabo released Just for the Record: Conversations With and About “Blue” Gene Tyranny, a documentary exploring Tyranny’s work.

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