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Robert Wyatt

Robert WyattAKA Robert Ellidge

Born: 28-Jan-1945
Birthplace: Bristol, England

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

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Songcraftsman and outstanding beard farmer

Now a widely-respected musician and songwriter, Robert Wyatt began pursuing his musical aspirations by drumming in local skiffle bands with his schoolmates. Late in 1960 he fell under the influence of itinerant hippie and cosmic-gnome-to-be Daevid Allen, who lured both him and friend Hugh Hopper to London to perform as a free-jazz trio. Eventually Allen moved to Paris, leaving Wyatt and Hopper to form the psychedelic pop group The Wilde Flowers with vocalist Kevin Ayers.

The band eventually dissolved and Wyatt reunited with Allen and Ayers (who had defected from The Flowers in 1965) to form Soft Machine. Having taken over vocal duties after Ayers' earlier departure, Wyatt acted as both drummer and vocalist for the new band. Intensive touring opening for Jimi Hendrix in 1968 helped to spread the Softs' reputation, but also brought the band to an exhausted halt. During this period, Wyatt began dabbling with solo work, although an actual record would not be completed until 1970. The Softs soon reformed and went on to release four records before diverging attitudes between the core members resulted in Wyatt's expulsion in 1971.

With hardly a pause, Wyatt then put togther the band Matching Mole, whose name was derived from a phonetic anglicization of the French translation of "Soft Machine" (Machine Molle). Matching Mole recorded two albums of mostly instrumental material before breaking up in 1972; a planned reunion in 1973 was brought to an end when Wyatt, after an evening of drinking, fell from a third story window. The resulting injury left him permanently wheechair-bound.

A mere three months after his accident, Robert Wyatt was already back in the studio recording the second (and subsequently one of his most highly rated) of his solo efforts, Rock Bottom. Wyatt continued with solo and collaborative work (including a single release of his cover version of The Monkees' I'm a Believer) before retiring from music in 1975.

Wyatt re-emerged into the music world once again in 1980, his output now centered around inventive, sparsely-orchestrated pop songs with socially-oriented lyrics on albums such as Old Rottenhat. In 1986, he withdrew from the music business once again, but by the early 1990s he was back at work, creating some of the most critically acclaimed material of his career (particularly with the album Shleep, released in 1997). Periods of activity and silence have alternated in subsequent years.

Father: George Ellidge (d. 1963)
Mother: Honor Wyatt
Brother: Mark Ellidge (photographer)
Brother: Julian Glover (actor, half brother, mother is Honor Wyatt)
Sister: Prudence
Girlfriend: Alfreda Benge

    Soft Machine Drummer/Vocalist (1966-71)
    Matching Mole Drummer/Vocalist (1971-73)

    David Gilmour in Concert (5-Nov-2002) · Himself

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