Mojo reports that the adventurous British songwriter and Soft Machine co-founder Kevin Ayers died in his sleep two night ago. He was 68.
Ayers was born in England but spent his childhood in Malaysia, returning to the British town of Canterbury as a 12-year-old. There, he formed the early psychedelic group the Wilde Flowers with his friends Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, and Daevid Allen. In 1966, that band became the Soft Machine, a band who pioneered a far-ranging, pastoral form of British prog.
After the Soft Machine released their self-titled 1968 solo album and toured America with Jimi Hendrix, Ayers moved to Ibiza and began putting together his cult-beloved 1969 solo album Joy Of A Toy. He went onto record regularly, releasing a long string of solo albums that ended with 1992’s Still Life With Guitar. After that, he lived as a recluse in France for years before reemerging with 2007’s The Unfairground, which he recorded with help from members of younger bands that he’d influenced, including Ladybug Transistor, Teenage Fanclub, and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Below, check out footage of Ayers playing at a 1970 show in France.