Sky Saxon

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Sky Sunlight Saxon
Sky Saxon.jpg
Saxon in Germany in March 1989
Background information
Birth name Richard Elvern Marsh
Also known as Little Richie Marsh
Born (1937-08-20)August 20, 1937
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Died June 25, 2009(2009-06-25) (aged 71)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Genres Rock, psychedelic rock, garage rock
Occupations Musician
Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, bass guitar, guitar
Years active 1962–2009
Labels GNP Crescendo
Website [2]

Sky "Sunlight" Saxon (August 20, 1937 – June 25, 2009) was an American rock and roll musician, best known as the leader and singer of the 1960s Los Angeles psychedelic garage rock band The Seeds.[1]

Early life[edit]

Saxon was born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 1937.[2] Different sources suggest a birth year of 1937,[3] 1945,[4] or 1946.[5] His widow has said that his birthday was August 20, but would not confirm the year because he believed age was irrelevant. However, 1940 census records indicate he was born in Utah in 1937.[6]

Career[edit]

Saxon began his career performing doo-wop pop tunes in the early 1960s under the name Little Richie Marsh.[7] After changing his name to Sky Saxon, he formed the Electra-Fires in 1962 and then Sky Saxon & the Soul Rockers.[8] Several of these early songs were collected on a 1983 album on AIP called New Fruit from Old Seeds / The Rare Sky Saxon, Volume One.

In 1965, Saxon founded the psychedelic flower power band The Seeds with Jan Savage (guitar), Rick Andridge (drums) and Darryl Hooper (keyboards).[9] Hit songs for Saxon and the Seeds included "Can't Seem to Make You Mine", "Mr. Farmer" and "Pushin' Too Hard," which became a top 40 song and enduring rock anthem in 1967. Saxon's singing performance was dismissed by critic Lester Bangs as an American imitation of Mick Jagger,[10] while Michael Hicks considered it a more complicated synthesis of Jagger, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly.[11] The music on the Seeds 1966 albums The Seeds (GNP Crescendo 2023) and A Web of Sound (GNP Crescendo 2033) have been described as "weird psychotic blues highlighting Sky's demented, vocal sermonizing."[8]

A spinoff project, The Sky Saxon Blues Band, recorded one album, A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues, (GNP Crescendo 2040) with members of Muddy Waters' band.[citation needed] At the same time, Saxon continued The Seeds, recording Future (GNP Crescendo 2038) and Raw and Alive - Merlin's Magic Music Box (GNP Crescendo 2043). Later, in 1977 producer Neil Norman compiled and released Fallin' Off the Edge (GNP Crescendo 2107). an album containing rare "B" sides and unissued material.[8]

"Pushin' Too Hard" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

After The Seeds[edit]

In the 1970s, Saxon continued to work on the music scene, releasing a number of 45s and a few independently released LPs, often using the name Sky Sunlight Saxon, the New Seeds, or variations thereupon. His 1977 EP is particularly noteworthy.[12]

In 1973, he became a member of the Source Family religious group, a Hollywood Hills commune led by YaHoWha (a restaurateur, whose real name was Jim Baker) who gave Saxon the names Sunlight and Arlick.[13][14] In 1998, Saxon orchestrated the release of a 13-CD set of the psychedelic tribal music recorded by the commune's band Ya Ho Wa 13 during the 1970s. These original vinyl were used from the archives of Damian and Isis Aquarian and photos from Isis archives. See the untold story of "Father Yod, Yahowha 13 and the Source Family" by Isis Aquarian. [15]

In subsequent years, Saxon released a number of albums under various band names including The Starry Seeds Band, Sky Saxon & Firewall, The Hour, Wolf Pack, Fast Planet, Back to the Garden, King Arthur's Court, and Shapes Have Fangs.[8][16] Additionally, Saxon had several times reformed The Seeds with different musician line-ups.

In 2008, Saxon and the Seeds collaborated on some new songs and recordings with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.[17] Saxon later appeared in the music video of the Smashing Pumpkins' song "Superchrist".[18] Sky Saxon's last performance and recording was done in Austin, TX.

Personal life[edit]

Sky had great admiration for dogs and wolves. Many of his song lyrics and interviews make direct reference to this topic.

Death[edit]

On June 25, 2009, Saxon died unexpectedly in an Austin, Texas hospital of an infection that had spread throughout his organs due to a simple infection contracted at some point that was never treated. At age 71, Saxon died of heart and renal failure due to the infection.[19]

At the time of his death, he had been scheduled to commence a tour of the United States and Canada as part of the "California '66" tour, featuring reformed versions of The Seeds: The Electric Prunes and Love.[20]

On July 24, 2009, members of The Smashing Pumpkins, Love, and The Electric Prunes performed a tribute concert at the Echoplex in Los Angeles in Saxon's memory.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sky Saxon, Seeds Singer and Bassist, Dies at 63", Press release, TransWorld News, June 25, 2009
  2. ^ "Sky Saxon" (obit.), Daily Telegraph, 29 June 2009
  3. ^ Sky Saxon at IMDB
  4. ^ The Seeds at blogcritics.org
  5. ^ Sky Saxon at RateYourMusic
  6. ^ New York Times, 26 June 2009, Sky Saxon, Lead Singer and Bassist for the Seeds, Dies
  7. ^ Austin Powell, "Off the Record Music News", The Austin Chronicle, March 13, 2009, retrieved 18-06-2009
  8. ^ a b c d M. C. Strong (ed), The great rock discography, Giunti, 1998, p.731
  9. ^ Herbert Goldberg , "Contemporary Popular Music", The Journal of Popular Culture, Volume 4 Issue 3, 1970, Pages 579–589
  10. ^ Lester Bangs, "Protopunk: The Garage Bands", in Miller, Jim (Ed) Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, Random House, New York, 1980
  11. ^ Michael Hicks, Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions, University of Illinois Press, 2000, p.9
  12. ^ Patrick Lundborg, "The Lama Workshop", 2009
  13. ^ John Wisniewski, "Mr. Seed", Interview, Horror Garage, horrorgarage.com, retrieved 18-06-2009
  14. ^ Isis Aquarian and Electricity Aquarian, The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, YaHoWha 13, and The Source Family, Process, October 2007, p.115 ISBN 978-0-9760822-9-3
  15. ^ Doug Harvey, "Father Yod Knew Best", LA Weekly, August 30, 2007, retrieved 18-06-2009
  16. ^ Shapes Have Fands at AustinChronicle
  17. ^ "Superchrist lives!", smashingpumpkins.com, January 9, 2008, retrieved 18-06-2009
  18. ^ "2008 The people: Interview with Gingger Shankar", smashingpumpkins.com, December 19, 2008, retrieved 18-06-2009
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Saxon was replaced by Jerry Miller of Moby Grape, touring with his own band, rather than with a Moby Grape configuration. See Tara Hall, California '66 Revue adds Moby Grape's Jerry Miller; www.livedaily.com, July 15, 2009.
  21. ^ "A Tribute to Sky Saxon - at The Echoplex – Los Angeles / Silverlake, CA – July 24, 2009". Big Wheel Magazine. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 

External links[edit]