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- Posted on Feb 20th 2013 2:40PM by Jason MacNeil
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According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Ayers had been living in France in recent years after releasing his last solo record in 2007 entitled The Unfairground.
The son of a BBC producer, Ayers spent his formative years in Malaysia before returning to England in the '60s and becoming involved in the Canterbury music scene. Ayers joined the group the Wilde Flowers which was an early incarnation of Soft Machine. In 1967, the band released their debut single and would perform with fellow psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd before their self-titled debut came out in 1968. Soft Machine would also support Jimi Hendrix on his 1968 North American tour.
After parting with Soft Machine, Ayers would work with a myriad of seminal artists during his solo career, from Syd Barrett on Ayers debut effort Joy Of A Toy in 1969 to Mike Oldfield on Ayers sophomore album Shooting At The Moon. Brian Eno, John Cale and Nico would all appear on his 1974 live album June 1, 1974.
"It was great to do the so-called 'free-form' stuff -- but after a while, you get the T-shirt, you know?" Ayers said in a 2007 interview with Stylus Magazine regarding leaving Soft Machine. "I think that songs are more enduring, and more fun to do. A lot of free-form stuff is very self-indulgent. That's why I left, because Soft Machine was heading more into fifteen-minute solos -- and frankly, it wasn't just Soft Machine. There was a whole era, wasn't there? Endless guitar solos, and people just banging around."
Ayers continues releasing solo material in the '80s but released only one album -- 1992's Still Life With Guitar -- from 1989 until his 2007 album.
The musician was cited by late influential BBC radio personality John Peel as having talent "so acute you could perform major eye surgery with it." According to The Guardian, Peel also said Ayers was "the most important, under-acknowledged innovator in contemporary popular music in Britain."
"Oh man, RIP Kevin Ayers!" Decemberists singer Colin Meloy tweeted on hearing Ayers' passing with a YouTube to the Ayers song "Religious Experience (Singing A Song In The Morning)."
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced. Ayers is survived by a sister and two daughters.