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Kevin Ayers obit

KEVIN AYERS, the veteran English singer/songwriter who co-founded and was the original bassist of the Soft Machine, has died in Montolieu, France, his longtime home, The Guardian reports. He was 68. No cause of death has been announced. Ayers started the seminal prog-rock group in 1966 with Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen, Mike Ratledge and short-lived Larry Nowlin, borrowing the title of the novel by William S. Burroughs (who gave them his permission). The band released their influential debut album, The Soft Machine, in 1968. They then scored an opening slot and toured North America with the Jimi Hendrix Experience that year. Ayers went solo immediately afterward, releasing 17 albums, from 1969’s Joy of a Toy to 2007’s The Unfairground, while also collaborating with Brian Eno and Mike Oldfield, among other fellow art-rock figures. Wyatt fell at one of Ayers' parties in 1973 and and was paralyzed from the waist down. Ayers spent much of his life struggling with heroin addiction. (2/21a)

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