Sky Saxon

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Sky Saxon
Saxon in Germany in March 1989
Saxon in Germany in March 1989
Background information
Birth nameRichard Elvern Marsh
Also known asLittle Richie Marsh
Born(1937-08-20)August 20, 1937
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
DiedJune 25, 2009(2009-06-25) (aged 71)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
GenresRock, psychedelic rock, garage rock, acid rock, proto-punk
InstrumentsVocals, bass guitar, guitar
Years active1962–2009
LabelsGNP Crescendo

Sky "Sunlight" Saxon (born Richard Elvern Marsh; August 20, 1937 – June 25, 2009) was an American rock and roll musician, best known as the leader and singer of the 1960s Los Angeles psychedelic garage rock band The Seeds.[1]

Early life[edit]

Saxon was born Richard Elvern Marsh in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 1937.[2] Different sources suggest a birth year of 1937,[3] 1945,[4] or 1946.[5] His widow has said that his birthday was August 20, but would not confirm the year because he believed age was irrelevant. However, 1940 census records indicate he was born in Utah in 1937.[6] He was raised in a Mormon household.[7]


Saxon began his career performing doo-wop pop tunes in the early 1960s under the name Little Richie Marsh.[8] After changing his name to Sky Saxon, he formed the Electra-Fires in 1962 and then Sky Saxon & the Soul Rockers.[9] Several of these early songs were collected on a 1983 album on AIP called New Fruit from Old Seeds / The Rare Sky Saxon, Volume One.

In 1965, Saxon founded the psychedelic flower power band The Seeds with Jan Savage (guitar), Rick Andridge (drums), and Darryl Hooper (keyboards).[10] Hit songs for Saxon and the Seeds included "Can't Seem to Make You Mine", "Mr. Farmer", and "Pushin' Too Hard," which became a top 40 song and enduring rock anthem in 1967. Saxon's singing performance was dismissed by critic Lester Bangs as an American imitation of Mick Jagger,[11] while Michael Hicks considered it a more complicated synthesis of Jagger, Eddie Cochran, and Buddy Holly.[12] The music on the Seeds 1966 albums The Seeds (GNP Crescendo 2023) and A Web of Sound (GNP Crescendo 2033) have been described as "weird psychotic blues highlighting Sky's demented, vocal sermonizing."[9]

A spinoff project, The Sky Saxon Blues Band, recorded one album, A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues, (GNP Crescendo 2040) with members of Muddy Waters' band.[citation needed] At the same time, Saxon continued The Seeds, recording Future (GNP Crescendo 2038) and Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box (GNP Crescendo 2043). Later, in 1977 producer Neil Norman compiled and released Fallin' Off the Edge (GNP Crescendo 2107). an album containing rare "B" sides and unissued material.[9]

"Pushin' Too Hard" was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

After The Seeds[edit]

In the 1970s, Saxon continued to work on the music scene, releasing a number of 45s and a few independently released LPs, often using the name Sky Sunlight Saxon, the New Seeds, or variations thereupon. His 1977 EP is particularly noteworthy.[13]

In 1973, he became a member of the Source Family religious group, a Hollywood Hills commune led by YaHoWha (a restaurateur, whose real name was Jim Baker) who gave Saxon the names Sunlight and Arlick.[14][15] Consequently, he became a vegetarian.[14][16] In 1998, Saxon orchestrated the release of a 13-CD set of the psychedelic tribal music recorded by the commune's band Ya Ho Wa 13 during the 1970s.[17]

In subsequent years, Saxon released a number of albums under various band names including The Starry Seeds Band, Sky Saxon & Firewall, The Hour, Wolf Pack, Fast Planet, Back to the Garden, King Arthur's Court, and Shapes Have Fangs.[9][18] In late 1999 Saxon teamed up with his friend Djin Aquarian from the Ya Ho Wa 13 band on guitar, with drummer David Walas and bass player David Phillips. This led to an album released after the band stopped playing together called "This Band Was From Mt. Shasta". Additionally, Saxon had several times reformed The Seeds with different musician line-ups.

In 2008, Saxon and the Seeds collaborated on some new songs and recordings with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.[19] Saxon later appeared in the music video of the Smashing Pumpkins' song "Superchrist".[20] Sky Saxon's last performance and recording was done in Austin, Texas.


On June 25, 2009, at age 71, Saxon died unexpectedly in an Austin, Texas, hospital of heart and renal failure due to a simple infection that had spread throughout his organs, which he had contracted at some point that had not been treated.[21] Saxon's death was overshadowed by the death of Farrah Fawcett, which in turn was heavily overshadowed by the death of Michael Jackson, all on the same date.[22]

At the time of his death, he had been scheduled to commence a tour of the United States and Canada as part of the "California '66" tour, featuring reformed versions of The Seeds, The Electric Prunes, and Love.[23]

On July 24, 2009, members of The Smashing Pumpkins, Love, and The Electric Prunes performed a tribute concert at the Echoplex in Los Angeles in Saxon's memory.[24]


  1. ^ "Sky Saxon, Seeds Singer and Bassist, Dies at 63", Press release, TransWorld News, June 25, 2009
  2. ^ "Sky Saxon" (obit.), Daily Telegraph, June 29, 2009
  3. ^ "Sky Saxon". Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Seeds at". Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  5. ^ "Sky Saxon discography". RateYourMusic. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  6. ^ Weber, Bruce (June 26, 2009). "Sky Saxon, Lead Singer and Bassist for the Seeds, Dies". Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  7. ^ "Sky Saxon: Singer and bassist with seminal Sixties garage ...",, Jul 13, 2009
  8. ^ Austin Powell, "Off the Record Music News", The Austin Chronicle, March 13, 2009, Retrieved June 18, 2009
  9. ^ a b c d M. C. Strong (ed), The great rock discography, Giunti, 1998, p.731
  10. ^ Herbert Goldberg, "Contemporary Popular Music", The Journal of Popular Culture, Volume 4 Issue 3, 1970, Pages 579–589
  11. ^ Lester Bangs, "Protopunk: The Garage Bands", in Miller, Jim (Ed) Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, Random House, New York, 1980
  12. ^ Michael Hicks, Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions, University of Illinois Press, 2000, p.9
  13. ^ Patrick Lundborg, "The Lama Workshop", 2009
  14. ^ a b Wisniewski, John. "Mr. Seed". (interview). Archived from the original on April 5, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  15. ^ Isis Aquarian and Electricity Aquarian, The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, YaHoWha 13, and The Source Family Archived July 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Process, October 2007, p.115 ISBN 978-0-9760822-9-3
  16. ^ Powell, Austin (July 24, 2009). "March of the Flower Children". The Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  17. ^ Doug Harvey, "Father Yod Knew Best", LA Weekly, August 30, 2007, Retrieved June 18, 2009
  18. ^ "Events - Music - Sunday, September 6, 2020 - The Austin Chronicle". Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  19. ^ "Superchrist lives!" Archived March 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine,, January 9, 2008, Retrieved June 18, 2009
  20. ^ "2008 The people: Interview with Gingger Shankar" Archived March 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine,, December 19, 2008, Retrieved June 18, 2009
  21. ^ "Details released on the passing of the Seeds' Sky Saxon". June 26, 2009. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  22. ^ Lynn Elber and Jim Vertuno (June 25, 2009). "UPDATED: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Sky Saxon die". The Associated Press, as reported by The Santa Clarita Valley Signal. Retrieved May 9, 2020.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  23. ^ Saxon was replaced by Jerry Miller of Moby Grape, touring with his own band, rather than with a Moby Grape configuration. See Tara Hall, California '66 Revue adds Moby Grape's Jerry Miller Archived July 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine;, July 15, 2009.
  24. ^ "A Tribute to Sky Saxon – at The Echoplex – Los Angeles / Silverlake, CA – July 24, 2009". Big Wheel Magazine. July 24, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2012.

External links[edit]