Pianist and composer “Blue” Gene Tyranny Useless at 75
“Blue” Gene Tyranny, the pianist and composer who played with Iggy and the Stooges on his Raw Power tour, has died, reports the New York Times, and Pitchfork can attest to it. Tyranny died of complications from diabetes on December 12th at the New York hospice. He was 75 years old. “Blue was a shining enigma of generosity and brilliance,” wrote the record label Unseen Worlds in an Instagram post announcing his death. The full explanation can be found below.
Tyranny’s extensive work as an artist began at a young age; In high school, he curated concerts of contemporary music and played works by avant-garde composers such as John Cage and Charles Ivers. He was eventually invited to audition for Juilliard as a major but did not graduate from 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 worked with jazz composer and arranger Carla Bley, Laurie Anderson, Bill Dixon, Peter Gordon, and others. Tyranny’s best known partnership was with composer Robert Ashley. The two worked together for years, most notably on Just for the Record from 1979 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 released their joint 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 about Tyranny’s work.