Art Queer News

Legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge Dead at 70

Psychic TV co-founder was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017

Pitchfork has reported :

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, avant garde icon and founding member of cult experimental bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, has died, as Dais Records co-founder Ryan Martin has revealed via social media. Martin shared a statement from Genesis’ daughters, Genesse and Caresse, who confirmed that their parent died the morning of March 14, 2020. P-Orridge was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in 2017. P-Orridge was 70 years old.

P-Orridge identified as third gender, with the preferred pronouns s/he and h/er. The English musician, poet, performance artist, and occultist was best known for h/er influential work in the industrial music genre and was often referred to as the “Godparent of Industrial Music.” H/er artistic stances on occultism, sex work, violence, and other taboo topics caused great controversy in the U.K.; this anti-establishment attitude and prolific output solidified h/er as status as an avant-garde cult figure.

P-Orridge was born Neil Andrew Megson in Victoria Park, Manchester and grew up in Essex. As a teenager, s/he attended Solihull School in Warwickshire where s/he developed interest in occultism, avant-garde art, and music. S/he dropped out of the University of Hull to join a London commune, and then departed the commune after three months to found avant-garde art and improvisational music collective COUM Transmissions and changing h/er name to Genesis P-Orridge. S/he helmed the famous Dadaist-inspired collective from 1969 to 1976. S/he formed Throbbing Gristle alongside Chris Carter, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, and Cosey Fanni Tutti towards COUM’s end.

Throbbing Gristle released their debut album The Second Annual Report in 1977 on their own Industrial Records. The band incorporated white noise, tape-based samples, and spoken-word poetry into their work, and were notorious for provocative imagery—such as Nazi concentration camps and pornography—used at their live shows. Their abrasive blend of rock, electronic, and punk ethos would go on to become the groundwork of industrial music. In total, Throbbing Gristle released nine full albums, despite breaking up in 1981 and getting back together almost two decades later.

Photograph by Drew Wiedemann

In h/er 2017 memoir Art Sex Music, Cosey Fanni Tutti accused P-Orridge of emotional and physical abuse. P-Orridge denied the allegations. “Whatever sells a book sells a book,” s/he told The New York Times.

In 1982, Christopherson and P-Orridge formed the video art and musical performance group Psychic TV. Together, they published a monthly series of live albums beginning in 1986, entering the Guinness Book of World Records for most records released in one year. The acid-house-inspired band collaborated with a wide range of artists including Alex Fergusson (Alternative TV), Current 93the CultAndrew Weatherall, and many more. Their most influential works were 1984’s Pagan Day and 1988’s Allegory and Self, which were reissued in 2017.

Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY), an “anti-cult” network, was created alongside Psychic TV to facilitate discussion around “chaos magic” and occult tradition. In 1993, P-Orridge and h/er second wife Lady Jaye relocated to Ridgewood, Queens, where they would undergo the “Pandrogeny Project”—they received body modification surgery to resemble one another as a single “pandrogynous” being named Breyer P-Orridge and adopted gender neutral pronouns. Though Lady Jaye died of stomach cancer in 2007, P-Orridge continued to identify as pandrogynous for the rest of h/er life. P-Orridge’s last studio album was Psychic TV’s 2016 album Alienist.

All text via pitchfork.com