Sky Saxon, lead singer and co-founder of Sixties garage rock band The Seeds, passed yesterday. The cause was an undiagnosed infection in his internal organs.
Sky Saxon was born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah. The year of his birth has been stated to be anywhere from 1937 to 1946.
Under his given name of Little Richie Marsh, Saxon started performing doo-wop tunes in the early Sixties. On 1962 he changed his name to Sky Saxon and formed the Electra-Fires and later Sky Saxon and the Soul Rockers. It was in 1965 that he formed The Seeds with Rick Andridge (keyboards), Darryl Hooper (drums), and Jan Savage (guitar). The Seeds released three singles in 1966. "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" made it to #41 on the Billboard charts, "Mr. Farmer" made it to #86, and "Pushin' Too Hard" made it to #36. Their self titled debut album, released in 1966, was pure garage rock, and is thought by many to have an influence on the punk rock which would arise ten years later.
Following their first album, The Seeds varied their style a bit. Their third album, A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues, was recorded as the Sky Saxon Blues Band and concentrated on the blues. Their fourth album, Future, was pure psychedelia. Unfortunately, their subsequent efforts were not as successful as their first album. Having gone through personnel changes, the band's name was changed to Sky Saxon and the Seeds" in 1969. The band continued in some form until 1972.
Once The Seeds had ended, Sky Saxon joined the Source Family religious community. He released albums under the name of Yahowha 13 in the early to mid-Seventies. Over the years Saxon would record using bands with such names as The Starry Seeds Band, Sky Saxon and Firewall, King Arthur's Court, and Shapes Have Fangs. With varying line ups, Saxon reformed The Seeds for albums in 1982 and 1993. He also collaborated with Redd Kross and The Chesterfield Kings. With varying line ups, Saxon reformed The Seeds for albums in 1982 and 1993, and in 1989 for a tour which included Arthur Lee and Love, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Music Machine, and Strawberry Alarm Clock. Sky Saxon and original guitarist Jan Savage reformed The Seeds in 2003. Saxon had to depart the group due to declining health mid way through the European tour that year. In 2008 he collaborated on new songs with Billy Corgan.
Debate has raged since The Seeds debuted as to whether Saxon's singing was merely an Americanised imitation of Mick Jagger or something more. Regardless, there can be little doubt that, along with British garage band The Troggs, The Seeds had an impact on the evolution of punk rock. Given that Sky Saxon wrote the vast majority of The Seeds' songs, it can be argued that Saxon was to some degree the grandfather of punk rock.