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Hugh Hopper

AKA Hugh C. Hopper

Born: 29-Apr-1945
Birthplace: Canterbury, Kent, England
Died: 7-Jun-2009
Location of death: Kent, England
Cause of death: Cancer - Leukemia

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Bassist

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Soft Machine bassist

One of the central figures in the British jazz-rock scene of the 60s and 70s, Hugh Hopper got his start exploring electronic and tape music techniques with future Gong founder Daevid Allen while both were living in Paris. By 1963 both he and Allan were back in England, performing gigs with drummer Robert Wyatt in a free-jazz trio. After Allen returned to Paris in 1964, both Hopper and Wyatt moved on to The Wilde Flowers -- a psychedelic pop group that also featured guitarist and singer Kevin Ayers.

In 1966 the Flowers split in half, with one half becoming the band Caravan and the other becoming Soft Machine. Initially, Hopper was just a roadie for the Softs, but by 1969 Ayers had opted to pursue a solo career, and after some internal shuffling-about Hopper took up the position of bassist. He remained in the band until 1973, contributing several memorable compositions (and performances) to the first six Soft Machine albums.

Toward the end of his tenure in the Machine, Hopper released his first solo album, titled 1984 after the book by George Orwell. The style of the record (particularly the second side) was in distinct contrast to the mundane jazz that the later Soft Machine offerings had become, with Hopper re-exploring some of the audio experiments he had made earlier in his life. Throughout the remainder of the 1970s, Hopper continued his solo work while hopping about between a number of different projects: The Carla Bley Band, Soft Heap (also including members of National Health), and the second incarnation of Gilgamesh to name just a few.

By the end of the decade, Hugh Hopper had temporarily put music behind him and was focusing instead on various forms of writing. It wasn't until 1984 that his music-making urge again shifted into high gear; concurrent involvement with Pip Pyle's In Cahoots and Phil Miller's Equip'Out followed until 1988, with Hopper organizing several bands of his own as well. He continues to be active with both a solo and collaborative projects.

Wife: Christine (two daughters)

    Soft Machine Bassist (1969-73)
    The Carla Bley Band Bassist (1976-77)
    Gilgamesh Bassist (1978)
    Soft Heap Bassist
    In Cahoots Bassist (1984-88)


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