Anamorphic photograph of Martin Rev and Alan Vega before 1988 Toronto concert
|Origin||New York City, New York, USA|
|Genres||No Wave, Art punk, Art rock, Electronica, Industrial, Synthpunk|
|Years active||1971 - present|
Suicide is an American synthpunk musical duo, intermittently active since 1971 and composed of vocalist Alan Vega and Martin Rev on synthesizers and drum machines. They are an early synthesizer/vocal musical duo.
Never widely popular amongst the general public, Suicide are highly influential: critic Wilson Neate writes that Suicide "would prove as influential as The Clash. Listening to their self-titled 1977 debut from the vantage point of late 2002, it's all so obvious: the synthpop, techno, and industrial dance sounds of the '80s and '90s, and now the new New Wave of electroclash, all gesture back to that foundational album." 
Suicide took their name from the title of a Ghost Rider comic book titled Satan Suicide, a favourite comic book of Alan Vega. Rev's simple keyboard riffs (initially played on a battered Farfisa organ before he acquired a synthesizer) were accompanied by primitive drum machines, providing the backdrop for Vega's muttering and nervy vocals.
Suicide emerged alongside the early punk scene in New York City with a reputation for their live shows; Vega stated "We started getting booed as soon as we came onstage. Just from the way we looked they started giving us hell already."  The first album was reissued with bonus material including "23 Minutes Over Brussels", a recording of a Suicide concert that deteriorated into a riot. Vega and Rev both dressed like arty street thugs, and Vega was notorious for brandishing a length of motorcycle drive chain onstage. This sort of audience confrontation was inspired by Vega's witnessing of a Stooges concert in the early '70s, which he later described as "great art".
Their first album, Suicide (1977), is regarded a classic. One critic writes: "'Che', 'Ghost Rider'—these eerie, sturdy, proto-punk anthems rank among the most visionary, melodic experiments the rock realm has yet produced. Of note is the ten-minute "Frankie Teardrop," which tells the story of a poverty-stricken Vietnam vet pushed to the edge: critic Emerson Dameron writes that the song is "one of the most terrifying, riveting, absurd things I’ve ever heard."
Suicide's albums and performances in the 1970s and early 1980s are regarded as some of the most influential recordings of their time and helped shape the direction of indie rock, industrial music and dance music. Among others, Steve Albini (Shellac, Rapeman, Big Black), Panthére, Gang Gang Dance, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Sisters of Mercy, She Wants Revenge, Henry Rollins, Joy Division/New Order, Soft Cell, Nick Cave, Cassandra Complex, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Radiohead, Kap Bambino, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Michael Gira, Sonic Boom, Loop, The Fleshtones (both of whom have recorded cover versions of "Rocket USA"), Ric Ocasek of The Cars, R.E.M. and The Kills have all listed Suicide as an influence. Bruce Springsteen was also influenced by the band, as evident by the song "State Trooper" from his album Nebraska. Furthermore, Springsteen also used a solo keyboard version of "Dream Baby Dream" to close the concerts on his 2005 Devils & Dust Tour.
In 1986, Alan Vega collaborated with Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy on the 'Gift' album, released under the name of 'The Sisterhood'. Vega and Rev have both released solo albums, and Suicide released their first album in over a decade with 2002's American Supreme. Sales, however, were slow and critical reception was mixed.
In 2005, SAF Publishing put out Suicide No Compromise, a "docu-biography" by David Nobahkt, which featured extensive interviews with Vega and Rev as well as many of their contemporaries and famous fans.
In mid-2009, the band The Horrors released a cover of the song "Shadazz" as part of a tribute to Alan Vega and his work. They have performed it mulitple times live, along with another Suicide song, "Ghost Rider".
Their song "Ghost Rider" was recently featured in a sixth season episode of HBO's Entourage.
Both Vega and Rev have recorded many solo albums.