808 State keyboard player and bassist Andrew Barker has died, aged 53

Andrew Barker 808 State
(Image credit: Paul Husband)

808 State have confirmed the death of Andrew Barker, who had been a member of the UK electronic music outfit since 1989. He was 53.

The band confirmed the news on their social media channels, sharing a message from Barker’s immediate family.

It reads: “After a happy life Andrew Barker experienced a short period of illness and passed away in his hometown of Manchester yesterday, Saturday 6th November. His family and friends ask that people respect their privacy at this time but remember him for the joy he brought through his personality and music. You’ll be sadly missed.”

808 State were formed in Manchester in 1987, taking their name from Roland’s iconic drum machine. Originally a trio - comprising Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson, who soon left to pursue solo projects as A Guy Called Gerald - the band went through various line-up changes, the most recent being just Massey and Barker.

The duo released 808 State’s seventh album, Transmission Suite, in 2019. Speaking to Future Music magazine around the time of its release, Barker said: “When I joined, I’d come from a hip-hop/electro background. We all had our little individual setups and joined them together. Gerald Simpson had a little rap group called MC Tune and he’d bought an 808. I had a Casio RZ-1 drum machine - which was like the first sampling drum machine - a little Casio CZ-1 eight-track sequencer and the Sequential Circuits DrumTraks, which you could take the chips out of to re-burn new sounds.”

Artists and the wider electronic music community have been paying tribute to Barker on social media.

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Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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