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Kevin Ayers, U.K. Psych Pioneer and Soft Machine Co-Founder, Dies at 68

Kevin Ayers

Kevin Ayers, a pioneer of British psychedelia, has died at age 68, according to the Guardian.

Ayers co-founded the Soft Machine, influential members of the late-’60s “Canterbury scene,” with Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen, and Mike Ratledge. He went on to release about 17 solo albums, working with Syd Barrett, Brian Eno, Mike Oldfield, John Cale, Nico, and even Elton John. His most recent full-length, 2007’s The Unfairground, demonstrate his influence on younger artists, with contributions from members of Neutral Milk Hotel, Teenage Fanclub, and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (the last of whom released a song in 1994 named after Ayers).

The Soft Machine toured with Jimi Hendrix and released landmark 1968 debut album The Soft Machine, Vol. 1, which showcased the group’s jazz-folk experimentation, before Ayers left the group. Reportedly battling heroin addiction, Ayers lived out his later years in Ibiza and in the south of France. Born in Kent, U.K., and raised in what was then British Malaysia, he died at home in Montolieu, France. He leaves behind two daughters, Rachel Ayers and Galen Ayers, his sister Kate, and a wealth of bands who have been influenced by his whimsical and sometimes bleak psych-folk records.