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F. Tovey, 46; Musician Used Name 'Fad Gadget'

April 17, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Frank Tovey, who under the moniker Fad Gadget created innovative electronic music in England, has died. He was 46.

Tovey died April 3 at his home in London after a lifelong battle with heart disease.

Born in London's East End, Tovey was influenced as a youth by the music of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.

He put together his first band as a teenager, but developed a more radical musical approach when he attended St. Martin's School of Art in 1974. He also studied performance art at Leeds Polytechnic.

After graduating, Tovey returned to London and began making music using a variety of conventional and unconventional sources, including drum machines, electronic pianos and items found in the kitchen cupboard.

About 1978, he developed the guise of Fad Gadget and over the next several years created four albums for the independent label Mute.

Tovey's music helped influence the sounds of several up-and-coming bands, including Depeche Mode, and his early techno work was viewed as influential to the techno/dance bands of the '90s. His songs were armed with social commentary and black humor.

In concert, Tovey gave Fad Gadget an intense persona, and often came away battered and bruised for the experience.

At one concert, he cut his nose and blackened both eyes when he swung a microphone around his neck and it hit him in the face. He ended up with both of his legs in casts after he jumped off the stage.

In the mid-1980s, Tovey dropped the Fad Gadget persona and began recording for Mute under his own name and playing acoustic instruments.

But last year, Tovey pulled on the Fad Gadget guise again, appearing in shows around Britain and Europe supporting Depeche Mode.

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