Friday, June 26, 2009

Psychobit: Sky Saxon

The world lost a true musical maverick last night, with the death of Sky Saxon.

Saxon was born with the slightly more plain name Richard Marsh at some point around the Second World War - nobody seems quite sure when. After brief spell as a doo-wop singer, Little Richie Marsh, Saxon reinvented himself as lead singer with The Seeds. Saxon was the American bridge between Sergeant Pepper and US punk, turning out three albums at the end of the sixties which more-or-less defined Flower Power.

The Seeds burned brightly, but quickly - their final album wasn't even a proper Seeds album, coming out under the name Sky Saxon Blues Band.

The 1970s saw Saxon getting religion, joined The Source Family, changing his name again to Sunlight and then withdrawing to what's generally assumed to be a life withdrawn from the public in Hawaii. Even so, he still played with a number of local band, most notably YaHoWha 13.

A comeback of sorts came in 1984 when Saxon teamed up with Steppenwolf's Mars Bonfire and members of Iron Butterfly for a record. Saxon did well in the late 80s, with a namecheck on The Pooh Stick's On Tape showing how he'd become something of an indie hero. Work with the likes of Redd Kross followed.

Somewhat surprisingly, his doo-wop work resurfaced in the 90s - his new wife, Marianna DaPello, releasing an album of Little Richie Marsh material alongside a number of bits and pieces from the Seeds archive. It was only ever going to be a matter of time before the Seeds reunited; that happened in 2002. A new album, The Red Planet, followed the initial tours; the band were still a going concern at the time of Saxon's death.

Sky was also still active as a solo artist; his last album, the Clem Burke and Danny B Harvey produced King Of Garage Rock was released in 2008. This was a "back to his roots" type-affair - or, more cruelly, a classics cover album. Saxon had also been working with a new band, Shapes Have Fangs.

His publicist confirmed his death last night, but did not have any further information on the details.

Here's some early Seeds, in Color: