Richard H. Kirk (Cabaret Voltaire) Has Died, Aged 65

The world pays tribute to one of electronic music’s most prolific innovators.

3 min
Richard Kirk RIP 1536x715
Sept 21, 2021
Cameron Holbrook

Electronic music pioneer Richard H. Kirk — a founding member of the influential industrial band Cabaret Voltaire — has passed away at the age of 65.

Founded in Sheffield, UK, in 1973 alongside artists Chris Waston and Stephen Mallinder, Cabaret Voltaire helped lead the charge in popularizing experimental DIY electronics and tape machines in music production and performance.

Cited as a major influence for post-punk era groups like New Order and Severed Heads, Kirk’s work with sampling, drum machines, sequencer programming, and tapes had a considerable impact on the industrial techno movement of the 1990s. In addition, Kirk’s interest in house music led him to work with the likes of Marshall Jefferson on the group’s 1990 record Groovy, Laidback and Nasty.

After Cabaret Voltaire disbanded, Kirk’s solo work increased considerably, releasing music under dozens of different aliases. One of the most noteworthy was his techno and IDM duo, Sweet Exorcist, with Richard Barratt. Their track “Testone,” released via Warp Records, helped define Sheffield’s iconic bleep techno sound.

In addition to Warp, Krik released solo work on reputable labels such as Mute, Rough Trade, Perc Trax, and his own Intone Productions imprint. In the mid-200s, Kirk brought Cabaret Voltaire out of hibernation for a string of live shows, and in 2020, Kirk dropped the LP Shadow of Fear — a solo project released as the first Cabaret Voltaire album in 26 years.

The artists, collaborators, labels, and fans alike have taken to Twitter to pay homage to this pioneering electronic dance music titan.

Listen to Richard H. Kirk’s discography on Beatport.