Seeing The Stooges perform at the New York State Pavilion in August 1969 was an epiphany for Vega.[note 4] In 1970, he met and befriended Martin Reverby. Together, they two began experimenting with music and formed the band Suicide along with guitarist Paul Liebgott. The group played twice at MUSEUM before moving on to the OK Harris Gallery. Calling himself "Nasty Cut", he used the terms "Punk Music" and "Punk Music Mass" in flyers to describe their music, which he adopted from an article by Lester Bangs. In 1971 the group dropped Paul Liebgott and added Mari Reverby on drums, though she didn't play in their live performances. With Bermowitz finally settling on Alan Suicide as a working name, they began to play music venues. Suicide went on to perform at the Mercer Arts Center, Max's Kansas City, CBGB and ultimately, achieve international fame.
In 1980, Vega released his eponymous first solo record which defined the rockabilly style that he would use in his solo work for the next several years, with the song "Jukebox Babe" becoming a hit single in France. In 1985, he released the more commercially viable Just a Million Dreams, but was dropped from his record label after its release. The album originally was set to be produced by Ric Ocasek as a follow-up the critically acclaimed Saturn Strip (1983), but production switched over to Chris Lord-Alge and Vega ran into several difficulties during the recording sessions. Vega later lamented, "They took all my songs and turned them into God knows what."
Vega teamed up with Martin Rev and Ric Ocasek again in the late eighties to release the third Suicide album, A Way of Life (1988). Visual artist Stefan Roloff produced a music video for the song Dominic Christ which was released by Wax Trax! Records. Shortly thereafter, Vega met future wife and music partner Elizabeth Lamere while piecing together sound experiments that would evolve into his fifth solo album, Deuce Avenue (1990). Deuce Avenue marked his return to minimalist electronic music, similar to his work with Suicide, in which he combined drum machines and effects with free-form prose. Over the next decade he would release several more solo records as well as perform with Suicide.
In 2002, he constructed Collision Drive, an exhibition of sculptures combining light with found objects and crucifixes. Vega's tenth solo album, Station, was released on Blast First Records in 2007 and was described by his colleagues as "his hardest, heaviest album for quite a while, all self-played and produced." In 2008, British label Blast First Petite released a limited edition Suicide 6-CD box set and monthly tribute series of 10" Vinyl EP's, to mark the occasion of Alan Vega's 60th birthday Musicians who contributed to the tribute series included The Horrors, Lydia Lunch, Primal Scream, and Miss Kittin.
In 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon, France, mounted Infinite Mercy – a major retrospective exhibit of Vega's art. This included the screening of two short documentary films: Alan Vega (2000) by Christian Eudeline, and Autour d’Alan Vega (extraits) (1998) by Hugues Peyret.
On Vega's religious views, he was raised Jewish. He shares the views of Spinoza, the pantheist philosopher.
Prior to the announcement of the 70th birthday release in 2008, Vega was thought to have been ten years younger. The 2005 book Suicide: No Compromise lists 1948 as his birth year and quotes a 1998 interview in which Vega talks about watching Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show (1956) as a "little kid". A 1983 Los Angeles Times article refers to him as a 35-year-old. Several other sources also list 1948 as his birthdate.
100,000 Watts of Fat City – Editions Anna Polerica (2000)
Alan Suicide Vega – Infinite Mercy? Let U$ Pray!. Copeland, Mathieu ed. (2010). Dijon, France: Les presses du réel.
^For several years other sources stated that he was born in 1948 – see 'Myth' section
^Vega has claimed a Catholic mother – see 'Myth' section
^"I started as a painter. The first time I did a light piece was when I was working on a very big purple painting. There was one light bulb in the room and as I walked around I noticed how the painting acquired different aspects. I wanted it to be one color so I said, "Fuck this, man!" I took the light out of the ceiling and really stuck it on the painting." Alan Vega, 1993 – 100,000 Watts of Fat City Anna Polerica.
^"It showed me you didn't have to do static artworks, you could create situations, do something environmental. That's what got me moving more intensely in the direction of doing music. Compared with Iggy, whatever I was doing as an artist felt insignificant." Reynolds, Village Voice.January 29, 2002
^"Live". Alan Vega. Slim Smith. December 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2013. "The new live set is based around Alan's new album, "Station", his hardest, heaviest album for quite a while, all self-played and produced."
^Paul Lester (October 10, 2008). "Suicide: How the godfathers of punk kept the faith". The Jewish Chronicle Online. "Vega is similarly ambivalent. He alludes to the "miraculous" nature of his career with Suicide and fateful meeting with Rev, begging the question – does he believe in a higher power? "I distrust the name 'God' but, yes, I do believe in a higher power," he says. He adds that he shares the rationalist stance of Spinoza, the 17th-century Jewish philosopher and "pantheist theologian". "God is in all of us," he says, before deciding: "There is an immense power. There has to be.""