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Sky Sunlight Saxon
Saxon in Germany in March 1989
|Richard Elvern Marsh|
|Little Richie Marsh|
|Born||August 20, 1937|
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
|Died||June 25, 2009 (aged 71)|
Austin, Texas, U.S.
|Genres||Rock, psychedelic rock, garage rock, acid rock, proto-punk|
|Instruments||Vocals, bass guitar, guitar|
Saxon was born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 1937. Different sources suggest a birth year of 1937, 1945, or 1946. 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.
Saxon began his career performing doo-wop pop tunes in the early 1960s under the name Little Richie Marsh. After changing his name to Sky Saxon, he formed the Electra-Fires in 1962 and then Sky Saxon & the Soul Rockers. 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). 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, while Michael Hicks considered it a more complicated synthesis of Jagger, Eddie Cochran, and Buddy Holly. 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."
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. At the same time, Saxon continued The Seeds, recording Future (GNP Crescendo 2038) and Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's 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.
"Pushin' Too Hard" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
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.
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. Consequently, he became a vegetarian. 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.
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. 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. Saxon later appeared in the music video of the Smashing Pumpkins' song "Superchrist". Sky Saxon's last performance and recording was done in Austin, Texas.
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.
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.