Monday, June 08, 2009

RIP Hugh Hopper

Jazzwise Magazine announced that British bass player Hugh Hopper died yesterday at age 64. He was diagnosed last year with leukemia. Hopper had been a mainstay of the British music scene since the 60s and was best known as one of the architects of The Canterbury Sound and a founding member of progressive band Soft Machine. He was born Apr. 29, 1945 in Whitstable, Kent, England and grew up in Canterbury. In 1963, he started out as bassist with the Daevid Allen Trio along with drummer Robert Wyatt. Then they formed The Wilde Flowers with Kevin Ayers and Richard Sinclair. Sinclair started Caravan but Hopper, Wyatt, Ayers and Mike Ratledge started Soft Machine. Hopper was initially the group's road manager but eventually joined as bassist. Ayers left so by 1969 the band was Wyatt, Ratledge, Hopper and they added sax player Elton Dean long enough to record the 1970 classic Soft Machine album Third. They became more of a progressive jazz group at this stage so Wyatt left in 1971. Hopper left Soft Machine in 1973 and worked with all kinds of bands including Stomu Yamashta, Carla Bley and Keith Tippett. He was interested in jazz at the time but would go in a more rock oriented direction later. He also experimented with electronics. In recent years he started Soft Machine Legacy with Elton Dean, John Etheridge and John Marshall and they toured and recorded regularly until Hopper was diagnosed with leukemia last year. His pals got together at the 100 Club in London Dec. 2008 for a Hugh Hopper benefit show. Hugh Hopper was a pioneer of British progressive music and he will be missed. Here's Soft Machine performing Backwards in Paris March 1970. RIP Hugh Hopper.

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