Legendary psychedelic songwriter Kevin Ayers dies

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kevin ayers

Contributor, collaborator, writer, and voice of the 60s and 70s psychedelic scene in England, Kevin Ayers grew to success as a musician with his band Soft Machine, which he formed with fellow psych performers Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, and Daevid Allen. The band went on to break musical boundaries in what was known as the Canterbury Scene, making their name as a staple at the UFO Club, a stage they often shared and competed for with Pink Floyd. Their music was influential to the development of prog rock, and their live shows were freeform and theatrical. Their debut record, The Soft Machine, is widely called on as one of the most important records of the 60s and a foundation for visionary jazz-influenced improvisation.

After leaving Soft Machine, Ayers pursued a nearly 40-year solo career that included collaborations with everyone from Syd Barrett to John Cale to Elton John. He spent several years living on the island of Ibiza, then eventually relocated to the south of France. In 2007, he released his last studio album, The Unfairground, for which he collaborated with members of Neutral Milk Hotel, Teenage Fanclub, and Roxy Music.

Ayers died in his sleep in France.