Today is the birthday of Hugh Hopper, the bass player of Soft Machine.
Named after a William Burroughs novel, Soft Machine (formed in 1966)
was one of the most exciting progressive rock bands to emerge from
England during the late '60s. Their first two albums were brilliantly
whimsical fusions of jazz and hard psychedelia. Robert Wyatt's
inventive drumming and appealingly unstable tenor rasp of a voice
enhanced the band's oddball musical attack, as did Michael Ratledge's
off-center keyboard part, Hugh Hopper's distorto-splat bass work, and
Kevin Ayer's manic lead guitar work. After their second album, the
Soft Machine adopted a more pronounced space-jazz approach. After
their appropriately titled Third, the group's lineup began to
change dramatically, and subsequent albums became less interesting. It
is also the birthday of Michael Karoli (Can), Tommy James, Francis
Rossi (Status Quo), and Simon Edwards (Fairground Attraction).