Genesis P-Orridge Dead At 70
Genesis P-Orridge, leader of avant-garde groups like Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, has died. P-Orridge’s daughters Genesse and Caresse announced in a social-media statement that P-Orridge, a pioneer of industrial music, lost a long battle to leukemia this morning. S/he was 70.
P-Orridge was born Neil Andrew Megson in Manchester and grew up in Essex. As a teenager, P-Orridge became interested in experimental rock and occultism, forming a collective called Worm in 1967. During high school and university, s/he took part in radical politics and avant-garde performance art, eventually moving to a commune in London. In 1969, P-Orridge founded an avant-garde group called COUM Transmissions. S/he adapted the Genesis P-Orridge identity in 1971, legally changing h/er name. COUM Transmissions had a penis logo, which got P-Orridge arrested for obscenity and also attracted the support of people like John Peel. The group’s transgressive performances sometimes included onstage sex acts.
Along with some friends, including members of COUM Transmissions, P-Orridge founded Throbbing Gristle in 1975. They released “United” b/w “Zyklon B Zombie,” their first single, on their own Industrial Records label in 1978. Their harsh, grating, confrontational music used primitive samples and drum loops, and their art included imagery of porn and concentration camps. Their third album, 1979’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats, is generally considered to be one of the most influential industrial albums of all time.
Throbbing Gristle broke up in 1981, and P-Orridge quickly formed a new experimental rock band called Psychic TV. That group was much more prolific, once releasing 14 albums in an 18-month period. P-Orridge also formed an occultist group called Thee Temple Of Psychick Youth. A 1992 documentary from the UK’s Channel 4 accused P-Orridge of child sex abuse, and Scotland Yard ordered P-Orridge’s house raided. But the arrest was based on a misunderstanding; P-Orridge was cleared of charges, and Channel 4 retracted its accusations.
In 1993, P-Orridge and h/er future wife Lady Jaye moved to New York and had body modification surgery to look as much as possible like each other. (That’s when P-Orridge came out, identifying as third gender.) In the ’90s, P-Orridge collaborated with industrial groups like Pigface and was injured in a 1995 fire at Rick Rubin’s house, eventually winning $1.5 million from Rubin in a lawsuit.
Psychic TV and Throbbing Gristle both eventually reunited, and Throbbing Gristle played Coachella in 2009. Lady Jaye died in 2007, and P-Orridge mostly retired from touring in 2009. Psychic TV released their final album Alienist in 2016. P-Orridge was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017, and fans crowdfunded h/er treatment.
Below, check out some examples of P-Orridge’s work.
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It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our friend, great influence and beloved artist and legend Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. The following message is from Caresse and Genesse P-Orridge: Dear friends, family and loving supporters, It is with very heavy hearts that we announce thee passing of our beloved father, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. S/he had been battling leukemia for two and a half years and dropped he/r body early this morning, Saturday March 14th, 2020. S/he will be laid to rest with h/er other half, Jaqueline “Lady Jaye” Breyer who left us in 2007, where they will be re-united. Thank you for your love and support and for respecting our privacy as we are grieving. Caresse & Genesse P-Orridge #s/heisher/eforever