Gang of Four

Gang of Four were an English post-punk band from Leeds that debuted with the 1978 single “Damaged Goods” on small-press Fast Product, followed by Entertainment! on EMI/Warner Bros. Their style — a mix of funky rhythms, dischorded riffs, taut vocals, and provocative lyrics — streamlined over their 1981/82 albums Solid Gold and Songs of the Free. League of Gentleman bassist Sara Lee joined for their 1983 release Entertainment and its single “Independence.”

Members: Andy Gill (guitar, vocals, drums), Jon King (vocals, melodica, percussion), Dave Allen (bass, vocals, 1977-81), Hugo Burnham (drums, 1977-83), Sara Lee (bass, 1982-83), Steve Goulding (drums, 1983-84)

Gang of Four started in July 1977 at Leeds University when singer Jon King (b. 1955) and guitarist Andy Gill (1956–2020) teamed with drummer Hugo Burnham (b. 1956). King and Gill had been chums since their time at Sevenoaks School, where they were part of the “Art Room” along with future Mekons Tom Greenhalgh and Mark White.

From the outset, King played melodica and percussive sundries. He took to writing lyrics about manufactured consent. After a couple gigs with one Dave Wolfson on bass, they filled that role with Kendal, Cumbria musician Dave Allen (b. 1955). They named themselves Gang of Four after the faction within the Chinese Communist Party that attempted an intraparty coup during the Cultural Revolution.

Gang of Four made their vinyl debut in October 1978 with “Damaged Goods” (b/w “Love Like Anthrax” / “Armalite Rifle”), issued on Scottish small-press Fast Product (FAST 5), which also issued debut singles that year by The Human League, The Mekons, and 2.3. The three songs were recorded the prior June at Cargo Studios, Rochdale, and engineered by John Brierley (Tractor, Here and Now, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark).

In January 1979, Gang of Four cut their first session for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, performing four originals: “I Found That Essence Rare,” “At Home He’s a Tourist,” “5.45,” and “Return the Gift.” That July, they returned for a second session, performing “Natural’s Not In It,” “Not Great Men,” “Ether,” and “Guns Before Butter.” The exposure from these broadcasts elevated them to national prominence, netting them a deal with EMI.


  • “Damaged Goods” / “Love Like Anthrax” / “Armalite Rifle” (1978)
  • Entertainment! (1979)
  • Solid Gold (1981)
  • Songs of the Free (1982)
  • Hard (1983)


1 thought on “Gang of Four

  1. Quote from Baribrotzer on the passing of Andy Gill:

    “Andy didn’t play much, but what he played was perfect. Gang of Four were one of the big names in minimalist art rock; few bands could make more out of one chord. What they did was just as much an accomplishment as the far fancier music we usually listen to. It takes real skill to make music with that little in it and not have it come across as boring or stupid, and GoF never did.” (2/1/2020,

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