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Posts Tagged ‘The Go-Betweens’

Died On This Date (February 18, 2013) Kevin Ayers / Influential English Singer-Songwriter; Soft Machine

Posted by themusicsover on February 18, 2013

Kevin Ayers
August 16, 1944 – February 18, 2013

kevin-ayersKevin Ayers was an English musician who was largely responsible for the birth of the British psychedelic movement of the ’60s.  Born in Kent, Ayers was in college when he immersed himself in the storied Canterbury scene where a collective of progressive rock, avant-garde and free jazz commingled to create something new and exciting.  He soon found himself playing alongside Robert Wyatt in the Wilde Flowers.  In 1966, the band morphed into Soft Machine with Ayers starting out on bass and shared vocals but later switching to guitar.  Soft Machine quickly grew a strong local following, often performing with Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.  In early 1967, they released their first single, “Love Makes Sweet Music” b/w “Feelin’ Reelin’ Squeelin’,” making it one of the first British psychedelic singles ever released.  It pre-dated Pink Floyd’s debut single by a month.  Soft Machine followed with their self-titled debut in December of 1968, and although the Chas Chandler/Tom Wislon produced effort is widely considered a classic, it failed to excite more than die-hard fans of the movement until many years later.  After an extensive U.S. tour supporting Jimi Hendrix, Ayers sold his guitar to Noel Redding and planned to retire to the beaches of Ibiza forever.  Before leaving however, Hendrix gave him an acoustic guitar and made him promise to not give up songwriting.  Whether it was the beautiful locale or the guitar, Ayers found fast inspiration for songs that would make up his solo debut, Joy of a Toy.  The album was released in 1969 on Harvest Records, also home to Pink Floyd at the time.  His follow-up album, Shooting at the Moon, included future star in his own right, Mike Oldfield, on bass.  Ayers continued to perform and record until once again retreating to seclusion during the late ’70s.  He briefly resurfaced to record and release 1988’s Falling Up which trumpeted his “comeback” with mostly glowing reviews only to see him go underground again soon thereafter.  By the late ’90s, he was living a reclusive life in southern France, but in 2005, he began to create music again, and with the encouragement upon learning that young bands like the Go-Betweens and Teenage Fanclub were enthusiastically citing him as an influence, he completed and released The Unfairground in 2007.  Members of Roxy Music, Teenage Fanclub, and Neutral Milk Hotel, among others, appear on the album.  It was another critical triumph.  Kevin Ayers was 68 when he passed away on February 18, 2013.  Cause of death was not immediately released.

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