Seeds’ Sky Saxon 1946-2009 R.I.P


Garage legend passes
away in Austin
from undisclosed infection.


By Fred Mills


this morning Sky Sunlight Saxon (real name: Richard Marsh) of garage legends
the Seeds died in an Austin
hospital. Depending on what source you consult, he was either born in 1937,
1945 or 1946 but most sources give the latter year. He’d been hospitalized in South Austin, Texas, on
Monday due to an undiagnosed condition and remained in critical condition in
the ICU in St. David’s South
Austin Hospital.
Doctors suspected an infection of the internal organs; further tests were to be
done upon stabilization and temporary dialysis of the kidneys was planned. The
official cause of death has not been yet released, according to a report at

Saxon fell ill last Thursday in his new home of Austin. Despite feeling under the weather, on
Saturday he performed a short set of Seeds classics at the local nightclub
Antone’s. He’d relocated to Austin
not long ago and had been playing out backed by members of local band Shapes
Have Fangs.


His wife Sabrina Saxon posted the news on her Facebook page
, writing “Sky has passed over and YaHoWha is waiting for him at the gate.
He will soon be home with his Father. I’m so sorry I couldn’t keep him here
with us. More later. I’m sorry.”


This, of
course, will throw the future of a previously announced Seeds/Love/Electric
Prunes tour
into uncertainty. No announcements have been made regarding that

Saxon was a true rock ‘n’ roll pioneer, founding the Seeds in 1965 and having a
string of hits that would go on to be adjudged true garage classics, “Pushin’
Too Hard” and “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” in particular. It’s arguable that
the band’s fuzzed-out, churning style, powered by Saxon’s snot-punk, sneer ‘n’
wail, fully epitomized the so-called Nuggets aesthetic, and echoes of the Seeds’ sound can be heard in virtually every garage
band operating today. Tune in to Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio show some weekend night for proof.


He later
became a member of the Source Family commune in the early ‘70s and played and
recorded with the Source house band, YaHoWha 13. Then in the ‘80s he resurfaced
under his own name (variously, as Sky Saxon & Firewall, the Starry Seeds
Band and simply Sky Saxon) to record a string of spotty but occasionally
inspired albums.


this period yours truly had an interesting encounter with Saxon on the phone
one evening. We’d arranged to do an interview about his latest record, but
about 5 minutes into the conversation he halted for a second then asked me, “Listen,
do you want to talk to Jesus? Because he’s right here.” Another voice came on
the line, and it turned out to be Saxon’s personal guru at the time – I don’t
think I ever got his name – and he proceeded to talk about spirituality and transcendence
and, if memory serves, LSD. This went on for about 15 minutes until things
reached a point when I could politely interject, “Could I talk to Sky some more
now?” Saxon, it turned out, had left to go to the store for cigarettes… And I
never did get to finish that interview.


I was
steamed at Saxon for a long time after that, partly for wasting my time and
partly because I’d been looking forward to talking at length to a bonafide


But I never stopped loving his music, and the
Seeds were one of the great proto-punk combos, without question. In recent
years he revived the Seeds brand and performed with different lineups. He also
did some recording last year with Billy Corgan and was in the video of the
Smashing Pumpkins’ song


Seeds doing “Pushin’ Too Hard” on TV in 1966:


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