Kevin Ayres R.I.P.

I’ve got no ambition, guess I’m out of place,
Cos I’d rather go fishing than run in the race.

I’m naturally lazy but what can I do I?
I was born in the wrong place, wrong time too.
Just working for money working for pay
All seems so pointless day after day.

I’m happy dreaming and it’s good for my health
And only when I’m dreaming am I really myself.
Some people say its just running away
But then everyone’s running somewhere,

And I still believe that the best we can do
Is to know where we are and be there.

For what we call progress,
We’re selling our soul,
And there’s just too much going on out there
Beyond my control.

Kevin Ayers
Am I Really Marcel?

I have written elsewhere about ‘my peripheral involvement‘ with the Canterbury Scene, “a term used to loosely describe the group of progressive rock, avant-garde and jazz musicians, many of whom were based around the city of Canterbury, Kent, England during the late 1960s and early 1970s.”

Only two of these musicians, Robert Wyatt and Dave Stewart (not the Eurythmics one), have had hits, in terms of chart success, yet Kevin Ayres could have if only ….

He had the looks ….

… and the songs, from ballads to riffs to the downright weird, all sung in a rich baritone, with every word clearly heard.

Kevin was the musician I’ve felt most in tune with, but not so much for his music, which I have always enjoyed (and have nearly all his albums), but because of his attitude.

Many would say, in a negative sense, that he was an eccentric, but I admire folk with integrity, who follow their own path because that’s the sum of their parts.

He could have been a star, but it would have been on someone else’s terms.

He died in his sleep, aged 68, on Monday at home in a mediaeval village in France. A note was found by his bedside: “You can’t shine if you don’t burn.”

He shone, and went fishing.

Today, I share in the sadness at his passing.

……………………………………………………………

This is the site for all things Canterbury.

6 Responses to “Kevin Ayres R.I.P.”

  1. Joerg says:

    Terry,
    I am deeply saddened, what a loss! He was one of a kind and will be greatly missed.
    Thanks for the nice words. Is that true about the note found by his bedside?
     
    Best, Joerg

  2. Jakartass says:

    The note was mentioned in a few obits I read, Joerg.
     
    Perhaps they were a line which would have been in a song he was gestating. But then again, perhaps he'd had enough.

  3. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the nice article… I shared the sadness too on my facebook though.
     
    I met Kevin and Daevid Allen in 1993 organizing the legendary concert: “Le choc des bananes” in Montreal (Quebec).
    After the show we went to the house and wrote all night  Kevin, Daevid (went to bed early) Jean-François  and me… We had a very good time and Kevin was charming until at 5 o'clock he wanted Champagne and Valium to go to bed..
     
    So I left on a Tuesday morning hitting the streets of Montreal and could'nt find any…(always please the Star) but didn't go back to my friend’s house and never saw Kevin again…
     
    I loved his music and i loved the man… To bad he was so deep into alcohol …. I remember picking him up and Daevid in Burlington, USA – crossing the border with the gnome Daevid was something unforgettable – anyway Kevin was drinking maple syrup at the bottle to pass the morning… When I asked him why he didn't quit alcohol since he had just quit heroin, he answered very strictly: I don't want to discuss about it! So I ended the question (never frustrate the star)
     
    …so Kevin; you are now where you belong in the sky with the other stars…

  4. Thanks for your music and hospitality, Kevin.

    I met a friend of Cyrille Ayers's (Virginie Poole) in Ibiza in 1969. I mentioned I was going to London the next week. She said, call this guy up. It was Kevin. I got there, called, and he said, come on over. I stayed there two weeks or so.
     
    He always spoke French with Cyrille. She gave birth to Rachel, and during that time Kevin was also recording Joy of a Toy at Abbey Road, and I would sometimes join him there. R. Wyatt popped in a few times too. The new Soft Machine also visited him at his apartment during my stay. I remember Mike Ratledge scolding him gently for scratching Mike's Cecil Taylor record.
     
    I gave Kevin the Maiden Voyage LP by Herbie Hancock. He was a bit of a jazz connoisseur. He tried to give me his Saucerful of Secrets by Floyd because he wasn't wild about it. I don't know why I turned him down.
     
    Kev and I went to see the Red Badge of Courage at his insistence. Very good film. He would walk very fast in the street, always dressed in velvet trousers and desert boots. At home he would cook excellent macrobiotic food.
     

    "… he eats brown rice/and fish … how nice …"

     
    Awfully nice person, so was Cyrille. Who knows what's become of her and Rachel? Two last things: he taught me a jazzy tune of his that he was earnestly practicing a solo to. Later I wrote a melody to it. All the chords in it were ninths. He decided to use a Spanish guitar I had brought along that I'd got in Barcelona. He liked it better than his own, so he took it to Abbey Rd. and recorded with it.
     
    Rest in Peace, you upstanding soul.

  5. Jakartass says:

    For the rest of this week, until Saturday 9th, there's a sound clip on BBC Radio 6 of Robert Wyatt talking about his relationship with Kevin Ayres.

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