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Soft Machine Bassist, Vocalist Kevin Ayers Dead at 68

Soft Machine
BIPS, Getty Images

Soft Machine bassist and influential progressive rocker Kevin Ayers has died. The musician and songwriter helped lead the Canterbury Scene in the late ’60s before breaking away to enjoy a quieter life in Ibiza and then work as a solo musician. He’s remembered for his unique voice, described as “intrinsically British and full of whimsy and mischief.”

Mojo reported Ayers’s Feb. 18 death at the age of 68. It’s not clear what the cause of death was, but a tribute to the musician indicates he had been ill for some time while living in France. Ayers final solo album was ‘The Unfairground’ from 2007. That was his first project in 15 years. His most prolific time as a solo artist was in the ’70s when he released ‘Shooting At the Moon,’ ‘Whatevershebringswesing,’ ‘Bananamour’ and other successful projects that featured the Whole World as his backing band. None of these were commercial successes in the modern sense of the term, but each was heralded for its artistic merits.

During a career with Soft Machine Ayers had a chance to work with Pink Floyd‘s Syd Barrett as well as open for Jimi Hendrix on his 1968 North American tour. It was during this tour the band wrote their self-titled album, and Ayers helped pen eight of the 14 songs.

Ayers has been honest in recent interviews about his hard-partying ways. He was known as a ladies man — according to Mojo — but expressed a dislike for the ways of the road. During a 2008 interview he alludes to this time of sensory opulence. (As you’ll see, his quotes are in English, while the rest is in Italian.) According to the Guardian, Ayers died in the village of Montolieu. He is survived by two daughters and a sister.

Next: See Other Rockers We've Lost in 2013

Listen to Kevin Ayers, ‘All This Crazy Gift of Time’

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