Lol Coxhill

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Lol Coxhill
Coxhill at the Red Rose Club in North London, 2007
Coxhill at the Red Rose Club in North London, 2007
Background information
Birth nameGeorge William Lowen Coxhill
Born19 September 1932
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Died10 July 2012(2012-07-10) (aged 79)
London, England
GenresFree improvisation
Instrument(s)Soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone

George Lowen Coxhill (19 September 1932 – 10 July 2012)[1] known professionally as Lol Coxhill, was an English free improvising saxophonist. He played soprano and sopranino saxophone.


Coxhill was born to George Compton Coxhill and Mabel Margaret Coxhill (née Motton) at Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK. He grew up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and bought his first saxophone in 1947. After national service he became a busy semi-professional musician, touring US airbases with Denzil Bailey's Afro-Cubists and the Graham Fleming Combo. In the 1960s he played with visiting American blues, soul and jazz musicians including Rufus Thomas, Mose Allison, Otis Spann, and Champion Jack Dupree. He also developed his practice of playing unaccompanied solo saxophone, often busking in informal performance situations. Other than his solo playing, he performed mostly as a sideman or as an equal collaborator, rather than a conventional leader – there was no regular Lol Coxhill Trio or Quartet as would normally be expected of a saxophonist. Instead he had many intermittent but long-lasting collaborations with like-minded musicians.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was a member of Canterbury scene bands Carol Grimes and Delivery[2] and then Kevin Ayers and the Whole World.[3]

He became known for his solo playing and for work in duets with pianist Steve Miller[4][5] and guitarist G. F. Fitzgerald.

He was thought to have largely inspired Joni Mitchell's song "For Free", while busking solo on the old footbridge which formed part of the Hungerford Bridge between Waterloo and Charing Cross.[6]

Coxhill collaborated with other musicians including Mike Oldfield, Morgan Fisher (of Mott the Hoople), Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and its musical descendant The Dedication Orchestra, Django Bates, the Damned, Hugh Metcalfe, Derek Bailey, Fred Frith and performance art group Welfare State.

He lived for a while in the Digswell Arts Trust in Welwyn Garden City and was a much liked member of the commune.

He often worked in small collaborative groups with semi-humorous names such as the Johnny Rondo Duo or Trio (with pianist Dave Holland – not the bassist of the same name), the Melody Four (characteristically a trio, with Tony Coe and Steve Beresford), and The Recedents (with guitarist Mike Cooper and percussionist Roger Turner), known as such because the members were (in Coxhill's words) "all bald", though the name may additionally be a play on the American band the Residents. Typically these bands performed a mix of free improvisation interspersed with ballroom dance tunes and popular songs. There was humour throughout his music but he sometimes felt it necessary to tell audiences that the free playing was not intended as a joke.

Coxhill was compere and occasional performer at the Bracknell Jazz Festival, and a raconteur as well as a musician; he often would introduce his music by saying the words, "what I am about to play you may not understand". It was following a performance at Bracknell that he recorded the melodramatic monologue Murder in the Air.

His son Simon is a punk drummer who played with Acme Sewage Co.[7] his daughter Claire is a vocalist and his daughter Maddie sings and plays in a ukulele band.[8] All three children appear with their father on "I am the Walrus", one of the tracks on Ear of Beholder and later featured on The Exotic Beatles part 2.[9]

On 26 July 2007, Coxhill married Ulrike Gertrud Scholz. They had been together since 1991.[10]


  • Ear of Beholder (Dandelion, 1971)
  • Toverbal Sweet (Mushroom, 1972)
  • Coxhill/Miller/Miller/Coxhill (Caroline, 1973)
  • Welfare State & Lol Coxhill (Caroline, 1975)
  • Fleas in Custard (Caroline, 1975)
  • Diverse (Ogun, 1977)
  • Lid (Ictus, 1978)
  • The Joy of Paranoia (Ogun, 1978)
  • Moot (Ictus, 1978)
  • Digswell Duets (Random Radar, 1979)
  • Slow Music (Pipe, 1980)
  • Chantenay 80 (Nato, 1981)
  • Instant Replay (Nato, 1983)
  • French Gigs (AAA, 1983)
  • The Dunois Solos (Nato, 1984)
  • Cou$cou$ (Nato, 1984)
  • The Inimitable (Chabada, 1985)
  • 10:02 (Nato, 1985)
  • Cafe De La Place (Nato, 1986)
  • Frog Dance (Impetus, 1986)
  • Before My Time (Chabada, 1987)
  • Termite One (Bruce's Fingers, 1990)
  • The Holywell Concert (Slam, 1990)
  • Solo (Shock, 1990)
  • Halim (Nato, 1993)
  • Three Blokes (FMP, 1994)
  • One Night in Glasgow (Scatter, 1995)
  • Xmas Songs (Rectangle, 1998)
  • Boundless (Emanem, 1998)
  • Alone and Together (Emanem, 1999)
  • Mouth (Fragile Noise, 2001)
  • Worms Organising Archdukes (Emanem, 2002)
  • Spectral Soprano (Emanem, 2002)
  • Milwaukee 2002 (Emanem, 2003)
  • Out to Launch (Emanem, 2003)
  • Darkly (Ictus, 2006)
  • Darkly Again (Ictus, 2006)
  • More Together Than Alone (Emanem, 2007)
  • The Early Years (Ping Pong, 2007)
  • Fine Tuning (Amirani, 2010)
  • Success with Your Dog (Emanem, 2010)
  • The Rock On the Hill (Nato, 2011)
  • Old Sights, New Sounds (Incus, 2011)
  • Sitting On Your Stairs (Emanem, 2013)
  • Morphometry (Glo-Spot, 2020)

As sideman[edit]

With Kevin Ayers

As sideman/session player (partial list)[edit]

With Company

  • Company 6 (Incus, 1978)
  • Company 7 (Incus, 1978)
  • Fictions (Incus, 1981)

With others


Further reading[edit]

  • The Bald Soprano: A Portrait of Lol Coxhill by Jeff Nuttall. Nottingham, Tak Tak Tak, 1989.
  • The Sound of Squirrel Meals: The Work of Lol Coxhill edited by Barbara Schwarz, Black Press, 2006.


  1. ^ Spicer, Daniel (10 July 2012). "Saxophonist Lol Coxhill Dies Age 79". Jazzwise. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  2. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Lol Coxhill: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  3. ^ Smith, David Ross. "Kevin Ayers and the Whole World: Shooting at the Moon". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  4. ^ Jones, Nic (28 August 2007). "Extended Analysis: Steve Miller/Lol Coxhill: The Story So Far...Oh Really?". All About Jazz. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  5. ^ Kelman, John (24 July 2007). "Cd/LP Review: Miller/Coxhill Coxhill/Miller / "The Story So Far..." "...Oh Really?"". All About Jazz. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  6. ^ Walters, John L (11 July 2012). "Guardian obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  7. ^ "ACME SEWAGE CO". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  8. ^ Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199886401.
  9. ^ "The Exotic Beatles, Pt. 2 – Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  10. ^ Salewicz, Chris L (11 July 2012). "The Independent obituary". The Independent. London. Retrieved 11 July 2012.

External links[edit]