The raucous sound of Sky Saxon's band the Seeds made them a local phenomenon in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, but few could have predicted that Saxon would go on to become his own one-man cult. After disappearing into a religious commune during the 70s
He was born Richard Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah, in a year he variously gave as 1937, 1945 and 1946, and moved to Los Angeles when he was (probably) 18 to pursue a musical career. He later claimed to have been a classical music fan and to have studied piano briefly at UCLA, but he first appeared on disc as an R&B singer, releasing several singles in 1963-64 and billing himself as Little Richie Marsh.
He changed his name to Sky Saxon because, as he would explain: "Sky Saxon to me was like my hero, Errol Flynn. The name sounded great and he was great and made great movies." After stints with the Soul Rockers and the Electra Fires, he answered an advertisement for a frontman placed by guitarist Jan Savage, drummer Rick Andridge and organist Daryl Hooper. They gave him the job. The Seeds were formed and they secured a deal with the GNP Crescendo label. Their first single, Can't Seem to Make You Mine (1965), provoked minor interest and was reissued to greater acclaim in 1967.
Their debut album, The Seeds, epitomised the garage band ethos of short, punchy songs powered by fuzzy guitars, clattering drums and crude organ, with Saxon's Jagger-like yowl on top. Its highlight was Pushin' Too Hard, a deliciously dim classic that never rose higher than 37 on the charts but is renowned as a benchmark of its genre. It became a local favourite along with the efforts of other LA luminaries such as the Doors, the Byrds and Love. The second album, A Web of Sound, followed in short order, and the band could be heard picking up elements of psychedelia and flower power. The trance-like single Mr Farmer was another local hit, even though many radio stations banned it because of its druggy allusions.
The Seeds greeted the summer of 1967 with Future, an album of full-on psychedelia bristling with exotic instruments and wrapped in a plush gatefold sleeve. It became the band's biggest seller, though it charted no higher than 87, and the group were vogueish enough to land a cameo in Roger Corman's teen movie Psych Out (1968), starring Jack Nicholson. However, drugs and fast living were eroding the Seeds, and by 1968 Andridge and Savage had quit, the latter later joining the LAPD. Saxon and Hooper then formed the Sky Saxon Blues Band and recorded A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues, with sleeve notes by Muddy Waters, but a subsequent effort to revive The Seeds failed.
Saxon now retreated into the Source Family, a religious sect formed by beatnik Jim Baker, alias Father Yod. Saxon became Sky Sunlight Saxon and recorded with a cult-related band that went by names such as Source, Yodship and YaHoWha 13 and featured the musicians Djin, Octavious and Sunflower Aquarian. Saxon also made recordings of his own, usually limited to mail-order release, but his former fans had moved on.
This changed in the 1980s, when the Seeds experienced a revival of interest (LA girl band the Bangles often played Pushin' Too Hard). The UK-based Psycho label recruited Saxon to record the Starry Ride album, assisted by Mars Bonfire from Steppenwolf and members of Iron Butterfly and Fraternity of Man. Saxon and Bonfire then formed Firewall, who recorded a couple of neo-psychedelic albums, and, in 1989, Saxon resurrected the Seeds to headline the Summer of Love tour, which featured such fellow California veterans as Arthur Lee and Love, and the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
Saxon spent part of the 1990s ensconced in domestic bliss with his then wife Marianna DaPello, and put together a wooden box of discs called God and Hair, comprising music by Sky Sunlight Saxon as well as YaHoWha recordings. He took The Seeds back on the road in 2003, and they continued to perform, albeit with shifting personnel, up to Saxon's death, releasing the albums Red Planet and Back to the Garden. In June 2007, he married Sabrina Smith, who also became his business partner.
In 2008 he released The King of Garage Rock, a collection of his old hits and some cover versions, and worked on new recordings with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. His death was first announced on Facebook by Sabrina, who has also revealed that Saxon's birthday was August 20 while not specifying which year. He had been admitted to St David's hospital, in Austin, with an infection and died of kidney and heart failure.
• Sky Saxon (Richard Elvern Marsh), musician, born 20 August 1946; died 25 June 2009
Here is a selection of some of Sky's works( both with the Seeds and solo) Some good . some not so but all a reflection of one of psychedelia s cherished champions
01 the wind blows your hair
02 faded picture
03 painted doll
04 fallin' in love
05 wish me up
06 barbie doll looks
07 the singer not the song
08 sons of the light
09 music is a vanishing world
11 burning down the walls
12 sha lalala (It's a groovy thing)
13 go with the flow
14 food for the hungry
15 bad part of town
16 born to be wild
18 no matter what you do
19 starry ride
20 i'm in love with life
21 drums.stars and guitars
22 star setter
24 have love will travel