1970s-80s Musician Dies After Health Decline: James Chance Was 71

James Chance, a memorable musician who blazed a cult following in the '70s and '80s, has died. Chance, who was best known for his work with The Contortions, died on Tuesday, according to an obituary posted on his official website on behalf of Chance's brother David Siegfried. He was 71.

The obituary did not disclose a cause of death, only noting that the "Contort Yourself" artist's "health had been in decline for several years." However, The New York Times later clarified that Chance died from "complications of gastrointestinal disease." The musician died at a medical facility in New York City


CANADA – MAY 03: James Chance (Photo by Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

- Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Chance, who was part of the "no wave" movement in New York, was championed in his obituary, despite bandmates noting the chaotic reputation he had. (Chance's live performances in his heyday were often confrontational and sometimes led to the singer/saxophonist getting violent with audiences.)

"Despite the mad darkness of the Contortions in late '78, I've always been fond of him," said Contortions alum Adele Bertei. "He'll always remain an important artist in my opinion. I played with James in Los Angeles pre-pandemic, and no rancor existed between us at all." 

Guitarist Pat Place added, "I'm so sad to hear of James' passing. Working with him in the early days of the Contortions was a roller coaster ride of fun, creativity and insanity. His loss is a great one for the downtown community and the music world."