Mothersbaugh's music career spans more than 40 years. He came to prominence in the late 1970s as guitarist and occasional lead vocalist of the new wave band Devo, which released a top 20 hit in 1980 with the single "Whip It". The band has maintained a cult following throughout its existence. He is the younger brother of co-founder and lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh.
Robert Leroy Mothersbaugh Jr. was born in Akron, Ohio, to parents Mary Margaret ("Mig") and Robert Mothersbaugh, Sr. In high school, he played in the cover band Jitters with his brother Jim Mothersbaugh and Greg Brosch on guitar and Greg Kaiser on bass.
In early 1970, Bob Lewis and Gerald Casale formed the idea of the "devolution" of the human race after Casale's friend Jeffrey Miller was killed by Ohio National Guardsmen firing on a student demonstration. Mothersbaugh joined Devo in 1974. After the band underwent a few line-up changes, Bob Mothersbaugh became part of the most popular five-piece incarnation, which included the Casale brothers: Gerald and Bob ("Bob 2"), and the Mothersbaugh brothers: Mark and Bob ("Bob 1"), as well as drummer Alan Myers. In 1981, Mothersbaugh with Devo served as Toni Basil's backing band on Word of Mouth, her debut album, which included versions of three Devo songs, recorded with Basil singing lead.
Following the commercial failure of their sixth studio album Shout, Warner Bros. dropped Devo. Shortly after, claiming to feel creatively unfulfilled, Alan Myers left the band, causing the remaining band members to abandon the plans for a Shout video LP, as well as a tour.
In 1987, Devo reformed with new drummer David Kendrick, formerly of Sparks to replace Myers. Their first project was a soundtrack for the flop horror film Slaughterhouse Rock, starring Toni Basil, and they released the albums Total Devo (1988), and Smooth Noodle Maps (1990), on Enigma.
The band stopped performing again in 1991, but reformed as a musical act in 1995.
In 2006, Devo worked on a project with Disney known as Devo 2.0. A band of child performers was assembled and re-recorded Devo songs. A quote from the Akron Beacon Journal states, "...Devo recently finished a new project in cahoots with Disney called Devo 2.0, which features the band playing old songs and two new ones with vocals provided by children. Their debut album, a two disc CD/DVD combo entitled DEV2.0, was released on March 14, 2006. The lyrics of some of the songs were changed for family-friendly airplay, which has been claimed by the band to be a play on irony of the messages of their classic hits. The album, Something for Everybody was eventually released in June 2010, preceded by a 12" single of "Fresh"/"What We Do".
In 1989, Bob Mothersbaugh and other members of Devo were involved in the project Visiting Kids, releasing a self-titled EP on the New Rose label in 1990. The group featured Mark Mothersbaugh's then-wife Nancye Ferguson, as well as David Kendrick, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Bob's daughter Alex Mothersbaugh. Their record was produced by Bob Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, and Mark also co-wrote some of the songs. Visiting Kids appeared on the soundtrack to the film Rockula, as well as on the Late Show with David Letterman. A promotional video was filmed for the song "Trilobites".
Following Devo's hiatus in 1991, Mothersbaugh founded his own band called The Bob I Band, and recorded an unreleased album with the drummer, David Kendrick. The master tapes were lost, though a bootleg of the band is circulating.
In 2015, Mothersbaugh performed the theme to Harvey Beaks.
Mothersbaugh has two brothers, Mark and Jim, and two sisters, Amy and Susan. His father appeared in early Devo films and at fan events as the character General Boy.
The name Bob 1 is meant to differentiate him from Bob Casale. he has three daughters and one son.
- Chopper Guitars "Spudocaster"
- Gibson Mike Bloomfield Les Paul
- LaBaye 2x4
- Fractal Audio Axe-FX Ultra
- Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer
- G&L SC2 Student Model
- Ibanez custom blue "Spud" guitar
- Ibanez Les Paul (modified w/ inverted horn)
- Line 6 POD XT and X3s
- Rugrats (1991-2004) with Denis M. Hannigan, Rusty Andrews, and Mark Mothersbaugh
- All Grown Up! (2003-2008) with Mark Mothersbaugh