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Robert Quine

Robert Quine

American guitarist
Robert Quine
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American guitarist
Was Musician Guitarist Composer
From United States of America
Type Music
Gender male
Birth 30 December 1942, Akron, Summit County, Ohio, U.S.A.
Death 31 May 2004, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (aged 61 years)
Peoplepill ID robert-quine
The details


Robert Wolfe Quine (December 30, 1942 – May 31, 2004) was an American guitarist, known for his innovative guitar solos.

A native of Akron, Ohio, Quine worked with a wide range of musicians, though he himself remained relatively unknown in comparison. Critic Mark Demming writes "Quine's eclectic style embraced influences from jazz, rock, and blues players of all stripes, and his thoughtful technique and uncompromising approach led to rewarding collaborations with a number of visionary musicians."

His collaborators included Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Lou Reed (notably on The Blue Mask), Brian Eno (on Nerve Net), John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Marc Ribot, Marianne Faithfull (Strange Weather), Lloyd Cole, Tom Waits (Rain Dogs), Matthew Sweet, Odds, Jody Harris (Escape), and many more, including a rare 7" by rock critic and friend Lester Bangs.

Bangs once said of him:

Someday Quine will be recognized for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument. He was among a series of innovative guitarists that worked intently with Lou Reed including: Mick Ronson, Steve Hunter, and Chuck Hammer. As a guitarist, Quine was influenced by the angular breakthroughs of early Lou Reed and James Williamson and worked through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to On the Corner-era Miles Davis.

Quine was a nephew of the philosopher W. V. Quine and second cousin once removed of the Black Keys' guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach.

Early life

Quine was born in Akron, Ohio, the son of Rosalie (née Cohen) and Robert Cloyd Quine. After graduating from Earlham College in 1965, Quine earned a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis but never practiced law. Quine was enrolled in the Berklee School of Music for the 1967–68 semester.


In 1969, Quine made a series of cassette recordings of the Velvet Underground performing live. These saw official release in 2001 by Polydor Records, titled Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes. Though lo-fi in sound quality, the album is an important document of the group. In the liner notes, Quine writes: "I got a lot of pleasure and inspiration from these performances. As a guitar player, they were an important element in shaping what musical direction I wanted to take." During this time, he was playing in a local band called Bruce's Farm.

Quine then worked in a movie memorabilia store in New York City with Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine who went on to form the influential rock band Television. Later, Hell invited him to join his new band the Voidoids. Hell's two Voidoid albums feature Quine's distinctive guitar work; guitarist Marc Ribot once said about Quine that "in terms of punk rock guitar soloing, [Quine] could definitely be called the inventor," while critic Ira Robbins describes his work as "stunning and underrated".

After the Voidoids broke up, Quine recorded with Lydia Lunch, Jody Harris and Material. From September 1979 to July 1980, Quine and Harris recorded various guitar improvisations with a drum machine. In 1981, some of those experiments were released as the Harris/Quine album, Escape. With Material bandmate Fred Maher, Quine recorded his only other solo album, Basic, released in 1984.

In the early 1980s, former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed drafted Quine to join his group. He appeared on Reed's The Blue Mask (1982), acclaimed as one of Reed's best albums. The Reed-Quine guitar work crafted interlocking duels that blur the lines between rhythm and leads. Reed's 1983 album Legendary Hearts featured most of the same group, but Quine eventually quit due to tensions with Reed, exacerbated when Reed mixed down or entirely removed most of Quine's guitar parts on Legendary Hearts. Quine claimed that when he got his advance copy of the album, he was so disgusted by this, he smashed the cassette into "smithereens" with a hammer. Reed persuaded Quine to rejoin for a world tour, which is documented on the video A Night with Lou Reed (1983) and the album Live in Italy (1984); Quine disliked touring, but agreed to the tour for financial reasons. He ended his partnership with Reed for good in 1985.

Throughout the remainder of the 1980s, Quine made scattered appearances as a session player on records by Tom Waits, John Zorn, Marianne Faithfull and Scritti Politti.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Quine began collaborations with a few musicians who would introduce him to new audiences, and who would raise his profile a bit. Saxophonist/composer John Zorn hired Quine for several experimental projects. He appeared on They Might Be Giants' 1994 album John Henry, and he also worked with pop songwriters/singers Lloyd Cole and Matthew Sweet during this period. Sweet's biggest hit song, "Girlfriend," is anchored by Quine's frenetic, squealing guitar work.


After the death of his wife Alice in August 2003, Quine committed suicide by heroin overdose in his New York home on May 31, 2004.



  • Escape (with Jody Harris) (1981)
  • Basic (with Fred Maher) (1984)
  • Come Together: Guitar Tribute to the Beatles, Vol. 2 (with Jody Harris) (1995)

Richard Hell and the Voidoids

  • Blank Generation (1977)
  • Destiny Street (1982)
  • R.I.P.: The ROIR Sessions (1984)
  • Funhunt (Live at CBGB & Max's) (1990)
  • Oh (2000)

He is also featured in the 1980 film Blank Generation.

Richard Hell

  • Time (2002)

Lou Reed

  • The Blue Mask (1982)
  • Legendary Hearts (1983)
  • Live in Italy (1984)
  • Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology (1992)

Matthew Sweet

  • Earth (1989)
  • Girlfriend (1991)
  • Altered Beast (1993)
  • Son of Altered Beast (1994)
  • 100% Fun (1995)

Lloyd Cole

  • Lloyd Cole (1990)
  • Don't Get Weird on Me Babe (1991)
  • Love Story (1995)
  • Etc. (2001)


  • Temporary Music (1981)
  • Red Tracks (1982)
  • Secret Life (1998)
  • Best of Material (1999)

John Zorn

  • The Big Gundown (Elektra/Nonesuch, 1984)
  • Spillane (Elekra/Nonesuch, 1986)
  • Filmworks 1986-1990 (Toys Factory, 1992)
  • Filmworks III: 1990-1995 (Toys Factory, 1996)
  • Filmworks V: Tears of Ecstasy (Tzadik, 1996)
  • Filmworks IV: S&M + More (Tzadik, 1997)
  • Filmworks VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour (Tzadik, 1997)
  • Great Jewish Music: Burt Bacharach (Tzadik, 1997)
  • The Bribe (Tzadik, 1998)
  • Godard/Spillane (Tzadik, 1999)
  • Taboo & Exile (Tzadik, 1999)

Other artists

  • Let It Blurt – Lester Bangs (1977)
  • Queen of Siam – Lydia Lunch (1979)
  • Off White – James White & the Blacks (1979)
  • Get Crazy – film soundtrack (1983)
  • Rain Dogs – Tom Waits (1985)
  • Cupid & Psyche 85 – Scritti Politti (1985)
  • Dirtdish – Wiseblood (1986)
  • Strange Weather – Marianne Faithfull (1987)
  • Quilt – The Shams (1991)
  • Dim Stars – Dim Stars (1992)
  • Nerve Net – Brian Eno (1992)
  • To Hell With Love – Suzanne Rhatigan (1992)
  • Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus – Hal Willner (1992)
  • Bedbugs – The Odds (1993)
  • I Don't Like Myself – Sion (1993)
  • John Henry – They Might Be Giants (1994)
  • El Abrazo Del Erizo Mikel Erentxun (1995)
  • Love is Wild... Life is Violent... – Katy Clements (1996)
  • Don't Tell Me – Eddie Skuller (1996)
  • Valdun—Voices of Rumantsch- Corin Curschellas (1997)
  • Painted Desert – Ikue Mori (with Marc Ribot) (1997)
  • Vibe of Life – Reiss (1998)
  • Cold Tube – Kazuyoshi Saito (2000)
  • Singles: Individually Wrapped – The Odds (2000)
  • Songs – Sion (2000)
  • Michael Maxwell – Michael Maxwell (2000)
  • dust!Dusty Wright (2000)
  • Presents Beyond Cyberpunk – Wayne Kramer (2001)
  • Bait and Switch – Andre Williams (2001)
  • Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes – The Velvet Underground (2001)(Recorded by Quine, though he did not play on it himself.)
  • Lustro – Michael DuClos (2002)
  • Cross-Eyed and Bow-Legged – Tom Clark and the High Action Boys (2002)
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Sonny Vincent (2003)
  • Nowhere Land – Kazuyoshi Saito (2003)
  • Lys Guillorn – Lys Guillorn (2003)
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