James Chance, No Wave Pioneer and Singer-Saxophonist, Dies at 71

by Madonna

James Chance, a pioneering figure in the No Wave movement and renowned singer-saxophonist, has died at the age of 71.

According to Billboard, James Chance’s brother David Siegfried confirmed his death on June 18. The announcement, made via a Facebook post on the late musician’s page, mentioned that James had been in declining health for several years, though the specific cause of death was not disclosed.


James Chance’s final live performance was reportedly in March 2019 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He passed away at the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center in New York.


In 1976, Chance co-founded Teenage Jesus and the Jerks with Lydia Lunch, marking a significant beginning in the No Wave genre. By 1977, he had formed the initial lineup of the Contortions after studying under saxophonist David Murray.


The Contortions gained prominence with their debut album “Buy” in 1979 before disbanding later that year. In 2003, James Chance reunited with some original band members for a series of shows, including an appearance at All Tomorrow’s Parties in Los Angeles. He continued to tour and perform in subsequent years, collaborating with bands like Watchers from Chicago.

James Chance is survived by his mother, Jean Siegfried, his brother David Siegfried, and his sisters Jill Siegfried and Mary (Randy) Koehler.


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