The Beginning Was the End is the definitive account of Devo’s vibrant early history, from the authors of the first-ever book about the band. The Beginning Was the End features more than eighty never-before-seen images of the band members and their visual history as it tells the unlikely story of a collection of creative misfits who formed a musical kinship, drawing material and inspiration from the industrial Midwestern environs of Northeast Ohio. With the May 4, 1970, Kent State shootings as a catalyst, Devo channeled protopunk energy into a sprawling art project that would pioneer the use of music videos, innovate technology in pop music, define the aesthetic of the 1980s New Wave/MTV era, and maintain an edge of social, political, and cultural criticism that continues their relevance fifty years after their formation.
About the authors
Jade Dellinger is director of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida Southwestern State College where he has curated shows, commissioned installations, hosted lectures and held performances with artists including the Guerilla Girls, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, the Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin and Devo’s Gerald Casale. He first invited Mark Mothersbaugh to the Sunshine State in 1999 for a project with the Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, but most recently world-premiered the Devo frontman’s “Postcards For Democracy” exhibition (with collaborator Beatie Wolfe) at the Rauschenberg Gallery in 2021.
David Giffels is the author of six books of nonfiction, most recently Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America (Hachette Books 2020), one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2020. His other books include the memoirs Furnishing Eternity (Scribner 2018) and All the Way Home (William Morrow 2008), both winners of the Ohioana Book Award, and The Hard Way on Purpose (Scribner 2014), a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice.” His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Parade, The Iowa Review, Esquire, Grantland, and many other publications. He is professor of English at the University of Akron, and serves on the faculty of the NEOMFA creative writing program.
Praise for The Beginning Was the End
“There are elements of Devo that are almost unfathomable. However, this book is as close as anyone will ever come to explaining where their brilliant absurdity came from—and more importantly, why that absurd brilliance was so culturally essential.”
—Chuck Klosterman, New York Times-bestselling author of The Nineties and But What If We’re Wrong?
“Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! frightened me to the point that I became paranoid and suspicious of the intent of punk rock and the direction of rock in general. When the concept and music finally wormed their way into my consciousness, I realized that this is the new prog; this is the future; this is all that matters. De-evolution became my religion, education, and inspiration to seek out and know all truly important rock music. It’s high time this amazing story was told.”
—Robert Pollard, Guided By Voices
“An extraordinary prehistory of Devo before they are plasticized in cartoon fame, The Beginning Was The End is readable, funny, and comprehensive. Anyone who recalls the thrilling initial impact of the band’s cultural interventions will delight in the taste of these raw potatoes.”
—Jonathan Lethem, author of Brooklyn Crime Novel
As an adolescent growing up in Los Angeles, I found Devo exhilarating, but confusing. Were they an American Kraftwerk? A chaotic-freaky version of the Monkees? Jade Dellinger and David Giffels’ The Beginning Was the End disambiguates the band brilliantly, tracing the myriad strands of the band’s only-in-Ohio DNA in a way that both elucidates and enhances Devo’s wondrous singularity. The result is a book as galvanizing as its subject.
— Matthew Specktor, author of Always Crashing in The Same Car and American Dream Machine
‘The Beginning Was the End’ tells Devo’s story | Book Talk
Interview with David and Jade at the May 4 Visitors Center
Cleveland.com interview with David Giffels
Interview with Brittany Moseley and David Giffels at Signal Akron
Feature inside 25A Magazine on page 82