Kevin Ayers has died at the age of 68, it’s been reported.
The co-founder of Soft Machine was closely associated with the Canterbury scene, and during his career he worked with big names including Brian Eno, Syd Barrett, John Cale, Mike Oldfield and many others.
His first group, The Wilde Flowers, was formed with school friends and included future Caravan members Pye Hastings and David Sinclair. The outfit morphed into The Soft Machine in 1966, featuring Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge and Daevid Allen. Later becoming simply “Soft Machine” they became known for their complex constructions based on jazz influences and the impact of their live shows.
Bassist, guitarist and vocalist Ayers left the band in 1968 after they’d toured with Jimi Hendrix, received acclaim for their self-titled first album and featured future Police guitarist Andy Summers for a short time. He said at the time he found the process of living on the road “dehumanising.”
He moved to France with Allen – who was working on the project that would become Gong – and amassed a stack of songs which appeared on his first solo album Joy Of A Toy. He released a total of 17 solo records, the last of which was 2007′s The Unfairground, which came after a 15-year break.
He’s also remembered for live album June 1, 1974, recorded with John Cale, Brian Eno, Nico, Mike Oldfield and Robert Wyatt – a concert electrified by the fact that Cale had caught Ayers in bed with his wife the previous night.
According to reports Ayers passed away peaceful on his sleep at home on Monday. He’d been living as a semi-recluse in recent years.