Canada’s Exclaim is reporting that synth disco and Hi NRG pioneer Nini Nobless, who formed half of the Quebec electro-disco duo Lime, has passed away. Reports in the French-Canadian press indicate that Nobless passed away from cancer on Tuesday, August 22 2023 after some time in palliative care. They were 74 years old.

Nobless was a dynamic force in music, with their first recordings going back to the 1960s band The Persuaders and filled out with a prolific career as a songwriter.

Author James Arena profiled Nobless in his book “Legends of Disco,” characterizing Nobless as a “dazzling innovator of this art form.”

Nobless is best known for Lime, a groundbreaking duo with their then wife Denyse Lepage. Nobless, known in Lime’s heyday as Denis Richard Lepage, transitioned in the last two decades of their life and released a number of recordings relating to their gender transition and queer culture under the name Nini (sometimes styled “NiNi”) Nobless and “No Bless.”

Publicity photo of Denyse Lepage and Nini Nobless of Lime c. 1985.
Publicity photo of Denyse Lepage and Nini Nobless of Lime c. 1985.

With Lime, Nobless scored a number of Billboard hits and tracks that became classics in the burgeoning underground, including the aforementioned “Your Love” (a #1 hit), “I Don’t Want To Lose You,” “Angel Eyes” and “Babe We’re Gonna Love Tonight.” As the production savant of the duo, Nobless was experimenting with many of Roland’s novelty machines, incorporating them into the heart of Lime’s sound.

“From ‘Your Love’ to the end, it was a steady evolution of synthesizers and new machines,” Nobless told Arena:

“I’d buy the latest machines the minute they came out. With ‘Guilty’ and ‘Angel Eyes,’ I was the first guy to synthesize a Roland TR-808 drum machine, the sequencer in it, to a tape recorder and play the sync back into the drum machine. Then the drum machine would be in sync, and the song would sound like it was computerized. It was a lot of work. Sometimes the machines wouldn’t synchronize properly, and you’d have to start over. But in the end, the sessions became totally electronic and way ahead of their time.”


Some Lime classics:

Image from the French language, from a Nini Nobless video still.