Richard H Kirk: Who was the Sheffield-born Cabaret Voltaire singer and how did he die?

Richard H Kirk was a much-loved Sheffield electronic dance music (EDM) musician, famed for his time with band Cabaret Voltaire, who has died at the age of 65.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 8:38 am

According to his record label, Mute, Mr Kirk died on Tuesday, September 21.

Mute announced the news in a tweet, writing: “It is with great sadness that we confirm our great and dear friend, Richard H Kirk, has passed away.

“Richard was a towering and creative genius who led a singular and driven path throughout his life and musical career. We will miss him so much.”

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His friend and fellow band member, Stephen Mallinder, also paid tribute to him, adding: “I’m shattered. My Cabs music partner, and often sparring partner, difficult to live with but impossible not to love.

“Stubborn, no sufferer of fools, but insightful, spontaneous, and with vision… and underneath the spiky shell a warm heart. I’m truly devastated. RIP Kirky.”

Here is everything you need to know about Richard H Kirk.

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Richard H Kirk, the founding member of Sheffield EDM band Cabaret Voltaire, has died at the age of 65. His record label, Mute, has paid tribute to the musician who had a long history in Sheffield. Picture: Mute Records.


Kirk was an electronic dance musician born in Sheffield, who released music under 40 different pseudonyms.

He played the guitar, keyboard, saxophone, clarinet, electronics and sampler.

It was he and fellow Sheffield local, Chris Watson, who formed the band Cabaret Voltaire in 1973, after trying to make music without using instruments.

Richard H Kirk had a rich solo career after Cabaret Voltaire broke up, performing under a number of different aliases including Al Jabr and The Silent Age.

They experimented with different electronic devices, inspired by the tech savvy Brian Eno who was a member of the band Roxy Music.

The band influenced the techno, electronic and dance music movement. Kirk released his first album as a solo artist in 1980 called Disposable Half-Truths and continued carving his solo career alongside the band until they broke up in 1994.

During the 90s, Kirk’s solo career soared considerably and he went on to release multiple types of electronic dance music under 40 aliases including: Agents With False Memories, Sweet Exorcist, Anarchia, Biochemical Dread and Electronic Eye.

He brought the band back together in 2008 as the sole remaining member and released a number of new albums.


During his solo career after the split of Cabaret Voltaire, Mr Kirk performed under many different names and aliases.

The full list includes:

Agents With False Memories Al Jabr Anarchia Biochemical Dread Blacworld Chemical Agent Citrus Cold Warrior Countzero Dark Magus Destructive Impact Dr. Xavier Electronic Eye Extended Family Frightgod Future Cop Movies Harold Sandoz International Organisation King Of Kings Multiple Transmission Nine Miles Dub Nitrogen Orchestra Terrestrial Outland Assassin Papadoctrine Pat Riot Port-au-Prince PSI Punky Dread Allstars Reflexiv The Revolutionary Army Robots + Humanoids Sandoz Signals Intelligence The Silent Age Sweet Exorcist Trafficante Ubermenschlich Ubu Rahmen Wicky Wacky Vasco de Mento

How did he die

Mr Kirk’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Richard H Kirk history in Sheffield

Cabaret Voltaire were the pioneers of EDM back in the 1970s and 80s, owing to their then-unusual use of synthesisers and tape loops.

They chose to be named after the Zurich nightclub which was the birthplace of the Dada art movement.

The band toured across many locations, but stayed true to their Sheffield roots and often played gigs in the city.

They played at the University of Sheffield back in February, 1981.

Sheffield recording studio

Western Works, on Portobello Street, was the recording studio which contributed heavily to the city’s rich music history.

From 1978, Cabaret Voltaire rented rooms on the top floor of Western Works, paving the way for other huge bands like New Order to make the most of the impressive facilities.

However, the building was demolished in 1993 and now has a very different use – as home to the computer science and school of health and related research departments at the University of Sheffield.

Cabaret Voltaire vocalist Stephen Mallinder returned to the site for a very special evening back in 2014, which celebrated the history of Western Works. He played with members of Clock DVA and In The Nursery as part of then-new band IBBERSON.


Pete McKee, the well-known Sheffield artist, is one of those who has posted a touching tribue to Mr Kirk online.

He wrote: “Sad to hear of the loss of a son of Sheffield. Richard H Kirk was a true pioneer of the Sheffield music scene. The Cabs led the way for the Electronic music explosion in the UK. Rest in love.”

808 State, the Manchester EDM band from the 1980s, also paid their respects on Twitter.

They wrote: “Sad news to here of the passing of Richard H Kirk .One one the UK Daddy's of electronica -The cabs DIY approach was an early inspiration of what to do with synths in the 70s, then the ease at which he entered into the 90s club culture without having to change his game much.”

Musician and co-songwriter from The Smiths, Johnny Marr, dedicated a special rendition of There is a Light that Never Goes Out to Richard H Kirk on stage last night.