Sky Saxon, Lead Singer for the Seeds, Dies at 71

Sky Saxon, the mop-haired bass player and front man for the psychedelic protopunk band the Seeds, whose 1965 song “Pushin’ Too Hard” put a Los Angeles garage-band spin on the bad-boy rocker image personified by the Rolling Stones, died Thursday in Austin, Tex. He was thought to be 71.

His death was announced by his wife, Sabrina Smith Saxon, on her Facebook page. In a telephone interview on Thursday, she said the cause was heart failure.

Mr. Saxon, who had remained an active musician, played his final gig at an Austin club with a local backup band on Saturday night and was taken to the hospital on Monday, she said.

The Seeds, formed in 1965, were a short-lived but cultishly memorable band that melded primitive rock rhythms with the free-love message of the flower power generation. Both their look (mod fashions and bowl-cut hairdos) and their sound borrowed from British rockers. Critics gave them credit for helping to popularize psychedelic rock and for prefiguring the punk movement.

Mr. Saxon composed songs and played electric bass, but it was perhaps his sullen, stylized lead vocals that best characterized the band. Never as threatening as the Stones, they were, instead, rather sweetly dangerous, appearing on white-bread television music and dance shows like “American Bandstand” wearing tailored bellbottoms and velour shirts or shiny Nehru jackets. Mr. Saxon voiced the vaguely menacing lyrics to songs like “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine,” “Painted Doll” or “Pushin’ Too Hard,” a pulsing, anthemic warning to any girlfriend with ambitions to rein in her man.

The Seeds flamed out in the early 1970s, but they lingered in the annals of rock history as representatives of their time and place. Their songs have appeared in movies including “Cop Land” (1997) with Sylvester Stallone and “Secretary” (2002), the story of a dominant-submissive relationship, which starred James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Sky Sunlight Saxon was the name he used in later years, the middle name given to him in the 1970s as a member of the Source Family, a spiritual cult whose leader — known as Father Yod or Ya Ho Wha — started what has been described as the quintessential hippie commune; Mr. Saxon was also known within it as Arelich. He was born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City in 1937, according to several online sources. Ms. Saxon said her husband’s birthday was Aug. 20 but would not confirm the year because he believed age was irrelevant, she said. He moved to Los Angeles to start a music career after high school.

Mr. Saxon’s first marriage ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, whom he married in 2007, his survivors include an unspecified number of siblings, several children and grandchildren.

After the Seeds dissolved, Mr. Saxon performed and recorded with numerous bands, including some he called the Seeds, and he occasionally played with the Source Family’s own band, known as Ya Ho Wha 13. In 1998, he arranged for a 13-CD boxed set of its music to be produced in Japan.

“Sky has passed over and Ya Ho Wha is waiting for him at the gate,” his wife wrote on Facebook. “He will soon be home with his Father.”

courtesy of NYTimes

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Sky Saxon, Lead Singer for the Seeds, Dies at 71”

  1. I have been looking looking around for this kind of information. Will you post some more in future? I’ll be grateful if you will.