Kevin Ayers
Vocals, Guitar, Bass

Born : August 16th, 1944 - Herne Bay, Kent (England)
Died : February 18th, 2013 - Montolieu (France)
Bands : Wilde Flowers (1964-65), Soft Machine (1966-68), Gong (1971-72), solo career

A Short Bio:

Born in 1944 in Herne Bay (Kent), Kevin Ayers spent most of his childhood (from six to twelve) in the exotic Malaysia, and never really felt at ease in England, this often rainy and cold country. As a matter of fact, in the late 70's, he moved to the island of Mallorca, where he lived well into the Nineties. In his later years he settled near Carcassonne in the South of France.

Following his two-year stint with Soft Machine, during which he contributed some of the most memorable songs of the band's debut album ("Why Are We Sleeping?", "We Did It Again" or "Lullabye Letter", not to forget both sides of the band's only single, "Love Makes Sweet Music" c/w "Feelin' Reeelin' Squealin'"), Ayers left after a particularly exhausting, and even traumatic, American tour, for a more relaxed solo career.

1969's "Joy Of A Toy", named after an instrumental track on Soft Machine's first album, marked the beginning of a long musical partnership with classical composer and pianist David Bedford, with whom he formed The Whole World the following year, alongside jazz veteran Lol Coxhill (sax), and the considerably younger Mike Oldfield (bass/guitar) and a succession of drummers (one of whom was Robert Wyatt). This line-up had a lasting impact on the rock scene of a time, despite actually recording only one album as a band : "Shooting At The Moon" (1970). Subsequent albums were recorded with both members of his live bands and session men.

Following the break-up of The Whole World and a European tour as honorary member of Gong in late '71 and early '72, Ayers teamed up with bass player Archie Leggett (formerly of Wonderwheel and a major contributor to Daevid Allen's solo album Banana Moon). Together, they created the 'Banana Follies' live show, with which they toured Britain throughout 1972. The pair formed the basis of live line-ups until 1974, by which time another major collaborator had joined Ayers : former Patto and Tempest guitarist Peter 'Ollie' Halsall. Until his untimely death in 1992, Halsall would be in Ayers' band at every available opportunity.

By the late 70's, Kevin Ayers' recorded output had become less frequent. This coincided with the beginning of his semi-retirement in Mallorca. Yet the sunny and relaxed atmosphere of Deya didn't completely spoil his creativity, as he kept releasing albums regularlyover the next 15 years, albeit less frequently than in the early 70's (and admittedly his early 80's Spanish-only releases coincided with an all-time low in terms of creativity). Furthermore, his live appearances multiplied in the 90's, both with his band and with the liverpudlian group Wizards Of Twiddly. A live album with them from 1995, Turn The Lights Down, was released in 2000.

In subsequent years, Kevin Ayers toured Europe, mainly as a duo with Carl Bowry on guitar (ex-Wizards Of Twiddly). He also played two series of Californian dates in 1998 and 2000. In 2007, he finally released a new studio album, The Unfairground, including guest appearances by Phil Manzanera, Hugh Hopper, Bridget St.John (and samples of Robert Wyatt's voice). Sadly this would be his final release, and little was heard of him until news of his death early in 2013.

There is a chronology of Kevin Ayers' early solo years on this site.