Sunday, February 24, 2013

RIP Kevin Ayers

Kevin Ayers, significant figure amongst the Canberbury fringe of the UK prog rock scene, has died at the age of 68. 68, from where I sit now, is not old. My mother died at 68. She wasn't old. On the other hand, she didn't live the rock'n'roll lifestyle, and was never addicted to anything stronger than a small square of Swiss chocolate every night after tea. Perhaps the life expectancy of musicians differs from that of farmers' wives.

I didn't know much about the Canterbury scene, but I did have Kevin Ayers in my record collection from surprisingly early on: so early, in fact, that I didn't really know what to do with him. The record was "June 1, 1974". I bought it for the Brian Eno tracks, was scared out of my wits by John Cale, mesmerised by Nico, and failed to grasp Ayers at all (he takes up all of side two, so an entire side of vinyl lay virtually unplayed). So little did I acknowledge his presence that when I finally discovered "Joy of a Toy" I failed to make any connection whatsoever between it and the guy on side two of "June 1, 1974". I had some catching up to do.

Nevertheless, I hope it is reasonable to observe that with the loss, now, of both Ayers and Barrett a large part of that particular generation's supply of British eccentricity has left the building.