Birthplace: Herne Bay, Kent, England
Location of death: Montolieu, France
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: Eccentric British guitarist/songwriter
Son of a British District Officer, Kevin Ayers spent his childhood in Malaysia, absorbing the local customs and culture. After his family moved back to England, Ayers found escape from the far more rigid lifestyle through his association with a circle of musician/friends that included Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt -- both of whom had fallen under the influence of wanderer Daevid Allen. In 1963, Ayers joined with Hopper, Wyatt and other friends to form the band The Wilde Flowers, a psychedelic pop band that would later divide and evolve into Soft Machine and Caravan. Ayers took his leave of The Flowers in 1965, choosing instead to accompany Daevid Allen on one of his many travels.
The following year, Ayers and Allen returned to England together after having secured some funds from a wealthy American in Ibiza; Wyatt and keyboardist Mike Ratledge were brought on board, and Soft Machine was underway. Only a single and the outline for a full album were completed between 1966 and 1967 before Allen was forced to abandon the group due to customs difficulties; Ayers' involvement was to end shortly afterwards, following a demoralizing American tour in 1968 and the recording of their first album in New York.
The first solo offering from Ayers, Joy of a Toy, came to light in 1969 and featured many of his former bandmates. The necessity to tour in order to promote his records led Ayers to assemble a band in 1970 under the name The Whole World (including then-unknown guitarist Mike Oldfield), with whom he also recorded his second album Shooting At The Moon. The band would cease to exist by 1971, but individual members would still be featured on Ayers' later recordings.
Through the remainder of the 1970s Ayers output became inconsistent, periods of activity being interspersed with extended holiday retreats. Very little was heard from the singer throughout the 80s, as a lack of confidence in his abilities was apparently keeping him from pursuing new projects. At last in 1988 a return to life was achieved with the album Falling Up, followed by a tour of Germany and occasional performances in the U.K. A resurgence of interest in his work in the 90s provided the needed fuel for a full return to music, and Ayers later undertook several tours around the world, as well as a variety of collaborative projects (including some work with the techno band Ultramarine). He died in 2013.
Father: Rowan Ayers (District officer)
Soft Machine Guitarist/Vocalist (1966-68)
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