Lol Coxhill

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Lol Coxhill
Lol Coxhill 2.jpg
Coxhill at the Red Rose Club,
North London, 2007
Background information
Birth nameGeorge William Lowen Coxhill
Born19 September 1932
Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom
Died10 July 2012(2012-07-10) (aged 79)
London, United Kingdom
GenresFree improvisation
InstrumentsSoprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone

George Lowen Coxhill (19 September 1932 – 10 July 2012),[1] generally known as Lol Coxhill, was an English free improvising saxophonist and raconteur. He played the soprano or 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 and performance art group Welfare State.

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 Coxhill is a renown punk drummer who played with Acme Sewage Co among others[7] and his daughter Claire Coxhill, a vocalist.[8] The latter collaborated with her father on the 1995 compilation of international versions of songs by The Beatles, The Exotic Beatles part 2.[9]


As leader (partial list)[edit]

  • 1971 Ear of Beholder (Dandelion)
  • 1972 Toverbal Sweet (Mushroom Records)
  • 1973 Miller/Coxhill (with Steve Miller on piano) (Caroline)
  • 1974 The Story So Far...Oh Really! with Steve Miller (credited as Stephen Miller) piano (Caroline)
  • 1975 Welfare State/Lol Coxhill with Welfare State Theatre Group (Caroline)
  • 1975 Fleas In Custard with guitarist G.F. Fitzgerald Caroline
  • 1977 "Murder In The Air" (12" Single)
  • 1977 Diverse (Ogun)
  • 1978 The Joy of Paranoia (Ogun)
  • 1978 Lid (Ictus)
  • The Promenaders with other free-improvisers busking on Brighton seafront (Y Records)
  • 1979 Digswell Duets (Random Radar Records)
  • Echoes of Duneden with guitarist G. F. Fitzgerald
  • 1980 Slow Music with Morgan Fisher (Pipe Records)
  • 1981 Chantenay 80 with Maurice Horsthuis and Raymond Boni (nato)
  • 1983 French Gigs with Fred Frith (AAA)
  • 1983 Instant replay (nato)
  • 1983 Lol Coxhill & Totsuzen Danball (Wax Records TKCA-30119)
  • 1984 The Dunois Solos (nato)
  • 1984 Cou$cou$ (nato)
  • 1985 10:02 with Daniel Deshays (nato)
  • 1985 The Inimitable (Chabada - 10" LP)
  • 1986 Café de la place (nato)
  • 1986 Frogdance Channel 4 soundtrack
  • The rock on the hill with Barre Phillips and JT Bates (nato)
  • 1987 Before My Time (Chabada - 10" LP)
  • 1990 The Hollywell Concert (SLAM)
  • 1993 Halim with Pat Thomas (nato)
  • 1994 Three Blokes with Steve Lacy and Evan Parker (FMP)
  • two tracks for Miniatures 1 & 2, produced by Morgan Fisher (Cherry Red Records)

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

With The Recedents[edit]


  • Frogdance, a documentary about Coxhill, was shown by Channel 4 (1987)
  • Appearance as a butler in Sally Potter's 1992 film Orlando
  • Cameo appearance in the season-five episode "A Much Underestimated Man" of the TV detective series Strangers (a precursor to the series Bulman)
  • Appearance as a priest in Derek Jarman's 1986 film Caravaggio

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. ^ "Jazz breaking news: Saxophonist Lol Coxhill Dies Age 79", Jazzwise (website), 10 July 2012
  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, the late 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.

External links[edit]