Lol Coxhill R.I.P.
Lol Coxhill, a veteran of both jazz and rock scenes, has died at the age of 79. A gifted saxophonist, he had an uncanny ability to move across all kinds of musical boundaries.
In rock circles he’s probably best known for his work in the early 70s as a member of Delivery and Kevin Ayers’ band, The Whole World. During this time he played alongside David Bedford and a young Mike Oldfield. Fascinated by the rhythmic and harmonic possibilities of multi-tracking his saxophone, Coxhill later recorded a track called Tubercular Balls as a wry hat-tip to his old colleague.
An ardent fan of Coxhill’s work, in 1971 John Peel’s Dandelion label released the double album, Ear of Beholder. Defiantly eclectic, it contained field recordings of him busking in various London locations, music hall songs, studio improvisations and a charming version of The Beatle’s I Am The Walrus.
Sporting sunglasses and a white boiler suit, he cut an eccentric-looking figure in the support slot at rock gigs during the 1970s. Punters occasionally baulked at his free-ranging, often challenging unaccompanied sax playing. Though he often seasoned his set with humourous shaggy-dog stories, Coxhill was more than capable of shooting down any hecklers’ quips with an especially dry, acerbic wit.
A stalwart of the free jazz scene at home and abroad, his richly imaginative playing bludgeoned one moment and tickled the next. Always feisty, he could be found working with The Damned, or in short-lived ensembles that might include the likes of Henry Cow’s Fred Frith or ex-Quiet Sun drummer Charles Hayward. His long-standing duo with guitarist GF Fitz-Gerald features some of his best work.
Throughout his career, Coxhill presented audiences not only with original ideas but real emotion. So long, Lol. You’ll be missed.