Death of a British Original
Very sad. Though he will no doubt be feted in obituary, Kevin Ayers never received the credit he deserved for one of the most creative and unique bodies of work in British music. His sometimes co-conspirator in psychedelia Syd Barrett became a legend on the basis of only three LPs whereas Kevin Ayers released album after album (17 in all) of his distinctive poetic, whimsical, mind-crawling psychedelic rock music without ever securing the reputation for creative genius that he deserved many time over. He should have been known as a British Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen for the consistency of his songwriting but for the most part remained an all-too-quirky footnote to the history of psychedelia despite being copied by everyone from Robyn Hitchcock to Peter Perrett and many more beyond. When he was part of The Soft Machine they were Britain's true answer to the Velvet Underground and his debut solo LP Joy of a Toy deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Transformer or Hunky Dory. That said there is so much to discover in all his albums. His is an oeuvre without too many duds. Shooting at the Moon, Whatevershebringswesing, Bananamour, right up to his later records like Sweet Deceiver and Yes we have no Mañanas on which he was accompanied by the even more underrated guitar hero Ollie Halsall formerly of Patto. Nowadays, with the internet revealing a musical landscape that was never so available the Canterbury scene is lauded as a pillar of the British avant-garde. Kevin Ayers was always his own man, however, never easy to pigeon-hole, a rocker and a poet with a charm that oozes from all his recordings.
Here is the obituary from the Guardian, from the Daily Telegraph, and from Mojo
SOFT MACHINE 1967 from Dutch TV show Hoepla (with Mark Boyle lightshow)
Kevin Ayers from French TV show Pop2 in two parts