suntimes
LUMINOUS 
Weather Updates

Kevin Ayers, 68, influential co-founder of Soft Machine

This is   1974 image British musician KevAyers made available by Max Films Limited Thursday Feb. 21 2013.

This is a 1974 image of British musician Kevin Ayers, made available by Max Films Limited on Thursday Feb. 21, 2013. Kevin Ayers, an influential singer-songwriter who co-founded the band Soft Machine, has died in France, his record label said Thursday. He was 68. Ayers was an important figure in the British psychedelic movement spearheaded by the Beatles in the late 1960s. He did not achieve sustained commercial success, but his work is treasured by musicians and many fans. (AP Photo/Lo-Max Records)

storyidforme: 45175942
tmspicid: 16729710
fileheaderid: 7502452

Updated: March 26, 2013 9:44AM



LONDON — Kevin Ayers, an influential singer-songwriter who co-founded the band Soft Machine, has died in France, his record label said Thursday. He was 68.

Mr. Ayers was an important figure in the British psychedelic movement spearheaded by the Beatles in the late 1960s. He did not achieve sustained commercial success, but his work is treasured by musicians and many fans.

Jack McLean, assistant to the managing director of Lo-Max Records in London, said Thursday that Mr. Ayers’ body had been discovered in his bed at his home in the medieval village Montolieu in the south of France.

“We believe he died Feb. 18 of natural causes and was found two days later,” McLean said. “He hadn’t been ill, but he lived a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and everything that comes with that.”

Mr. Ayers, who was raised partly in Malaysia, moved to Canterbury on his return to England and formed Soft Machine in 1966 with drummer and singer Robert Wyatt. They took the name from a novel by beat generation author William Burroughs.

The band was part of the “Canterbury scene” — a group of bands known for a pastoral approach to music that combined elements of jazz, folk and rock music.

Soft Machine and Pink Floyd both enjoyed wide followings for their imaginative and experimental take on psychedelia. They were also known for their free-form, jazz-influenced live improvisations.

Mr. Ayers also had a lengthy solo career and made many collaborative records, working with Syd Barrett, Brian Eno, Nico and others. He released “The Unfairground” in 2007, ending a lengthy hiatus with an album that was critically acclaimed.

The record company said Mr. Ayers is survived by three daughters and a sister.

AP



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.