English songwriter and core member of the Canterbury scene Kevin Ayers has passed away at the age of 68. Ayers recorded a series of albums as a solo artist and over the years worked with Brian Eno, Syd Barrett, John Cale, Elton John, Robert Wyatt, Andy Summers, Mike Oldfield, Nico and Ollie Halsall, among others.
After living for many years in Deià, Majorca, he returned to the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s before moving to the south of France. His last album was Unfairground, which was recorded in 2006.
British magazine MOJO reports: “Kevin Ayers possessed a voice like no other, intrinsically British and full of whimsy and mischief. This latter quality animated much of his life as well as his music.
Born in Herne Bay, Kent, in 1944, Ayers was raised in Malaysia before returning to England at the age of 12 where he attended Simon Langton Grammar School For Boys, later described as “a hotbed for teenage avant-garderie”. His first band, The Wilde Flowers, formed in the summer of ’63 and also featured Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper, both of whom (along with Ayers) would have a huge effect on what became known as The Canterbury Scene.
By mid-1966 The Wilde Flowers had morphed into The Soft Machine and featured Ayers on bass and vocals, Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals, Mike Ratledge on organ and Daevid Allen on guitar – the latter, both older and wiser, and a key influence on Ayers. The band’s sound evolved dramatically, as they began blending jazz influences and beat-inspired incantations to their psychedelic sound.”