Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge has died, aged 70

The music world remembers an influential but controversial figure

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Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, co-founder of seminal industrial groups Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, has died aged 70.

P-Orridge, who identified as pandrogynous and used the pronouns s/he and h/er, was diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in 2017. H/er death on Saturday (March 14) was confirmed in a statement by h/er two daughters Genesse and Caresse.

Born Neil Andrew Megson in Manchester, P-Orridge first made waves with h/er confrontational performance art collective COUM Transmissions, founded in Hull at the turn of the 1970s. P-Orridge formed Throbbing Gristle in 1975 alongside COUM’s Christine Newby AKA Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson as a way of pushing COUM’s transgressive ideas out of the art world and into popular culture.

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They made an instant impact, with an early Throbbing Gristle performance at London’s ICA in 1976 leading to the group being branded “wreckers of civilisation” by a conservative MP in Parliament. The group’s combination of pioneering electronics and provocative subject matter spawned an entire genre, named industrial after Throbbing Gristle’s record label of the same name.

In the 1980s, P-Orridge went on to found Psychic TV, applying occultist philosophy to murky psychedelic rock and, later, acid house. Along the way, he alienated most of his former bandmates, who accused him of tyrannical behaviour and running Psychic TV like a cult. In her memoir, Cosey Fanni Tutti went further, claiming that P-Orridge’s abusive behaviour included attacking her with a knife and throwing a breezeblock at her head.

In the ’90s, Genesis and h/er second wife Lady Jaye (Jacqueline Breyer) embarked on the “Pandrogeny Project”, undergoing plastic surgery to to resemble each another, and identifying themselves as a single pandrogynous being. P-Orridge continued to refer to h/erself in this way even after Lady Jaye’s death in 2007.

“It is shocking and uncanny to read that Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is gone, even as I knew it was coming,” wrote Matmos’s Drew Daniel on Twitter. “I have complicated and mixed feelings about their actions and legacy but absolute and deep gratitude for their musical work and artistic example. R.I.P”

Robin Rimbaud, AKA Scanner, tweeted: “Farewell to Genesis P-Orridge, a controversial and troubling figure for some, an inspiration and icon for others. For me, s/he was part of my musical and cultural upbringing and will certainly miss his/her presence”

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