UPDATED — R.I.P. SKY SAXON, 1946 – 2009

Obituary in the L.A. Record:

Nels Cline on Sky Saxon, in the L.A. Record:

Guitarist Nels Cline (spotted most recently with Wilco) grew up in the shadow of the Seeds and Sky Saxon and later went on to perform and record with Sky himself. He takes some time today to send L.A. RECORD these thoughts:

I am truly saddened to learn of the death of Sky Saxon. As a boy growing up in Los Angeles, Sky Saxon was my first rock idol of sorts. The Seeds’ music was important to me, sure, but Sky’s amazing charisma—as he appeared rather ubiquitously on TV shows like “Boss City” and “The Groovy Show” around 1966—was galvanizing. I would stare in disbelief as he—clad in shiny satin Nehru shirts bedazzled with some gaudy brooch—would gyrate around lasciviously, holding the microphone in every cool way imaginable. He seemed from another planet. I thought he was amazing.

Years later, in the late ’70s, Sky became known as “Sunlight,” and manifested a few eccentric and quite acid-soaked (or so they sounded) recordings that led credence to the rampant stories of his decaying mind and artistry. He came into the record store I worked at for years and—with his face covered in a long mane of hair, massive beard, and shades—went silently through the stacks with wraith-like fingers. I was dismayed and a bit freaked out by this creature—the former beautiful god of rock ‘n’ roll otherness.

But only a few years ago as my friend and colleague Carla Bozulich and I were going into our local Trader Joe’s, we ran into a bass player friend of mine named Rick, who had in tow a gray-haired, aging hippie type of man with an unavoidably compelling face and style. Carla, not normally interested in old hippies, immediately whispered to me, “Who’s THAT?!” Of course, you know it was Sky Saxon. And Rick was playing in the new version of the Seeds, recording just down the street from Carla’s house! Long story short, I went and hung out a bit, ended up recording a song about a corrupt judge on the then-upcoming Seeds record. (Sorry that the titles escape me today.) Sky was really quite deferential to me. Plus he seemed to be in quite good shape. He gave me a record, recently issued, of some of his pre-Seeds 1950s doo-wop-ish rock songs. How old IS this guy? I wondered.

We ended up doing a duo gig of almost totally improvised music one night at Zen Sushi. I was ecstatic. I suggested we call ourselves the Flower Lady & Her Assistant, but Sky immediately countered with the Flower God Men and Their Assistants. I had gear problems on the gig, and Sky had a bit too much sake before we played, but it was amazing to me. There were barely 30 people there anyway! I started plotting ways to do some more improvising with him. He was going off in a very Beat-style manner. I thought of collaborations with my trio, The Singers, but then Sky went off to more European touring, headed back to Shasta. Rick moved to New York…

I won’t ever be able to do those things with Sky. I feel lucky to have ever even seen him on TV, yet alone to have played some wild, extemporaneous psychedelia with him. They say Mick Jagger copped tons of his moves and style, and I believe it. But there was so much more to this man that remains to be revealed.

– Nels Cline
Glendale, CA

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

2 thoughts on “UPDATED — R.I.P. SKY SAXON, 1946 – 2009

  1. Pingback: Arthur Bulletin No. 153 (June 25) | ARTHUR MAGAZINE - WE FOUND THE OTHERS


    — For Immediate Release —

    – Los Angeles, California –

    Richard Marsh, otherwise known to the rocknroll world as SKY SUNLIGHT SAXON, will find tribute & love visualized at a memorial in his honour to be held Friday, July 24th 2009 at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, California. At 8pm the service gathering will commence with performances by friends THE SEEDS’ DARYL HOOPER & JAN SAVAGE with other members of SEEDS line-ups with Sky, THE ELECTRIC PRUNES, STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK’s GEORGE BUNNEL – RANDY SEOL – MARK WEITZ – GENE GUNNELS, BILLY CORGAN of THE SMASHING PUMPKINS & MARK TULIN of THE ELECTRIC PRUNES one-night-only as SPIRITS IN THE SKY, NELS CLINE of WILCO, solo set by Djin Aquarian of YaHoWha 13, solo set by MIKE RANDLE of BABY LEMONADE (ARTHUR LEE’S LOVE back-up band), the Simon Stokes Band, Sofizel, & very special guests. Attendees are encouraged to dress in flower children ware & bring flowers for the stage.

    The Echoplex is located at:
    1154 Glendale Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90026
    (213) 413-8200
    The venue is 18 yrs & over
    Advanced tickets available online at Ticket Web

    SKY SUNLIGHT SAXON of the psychedelic garage rock legends THE SEEDS passed away at 9:10am Thursday, June 25th, 2009 at St David’s South Austin Hospital in Austin, Texas. Sky died of heart & kidney failure, due to an undiagnosed infection of his internal organs. He passed peacefully with his wife Sabrina Smith Saxon & his spiritual brother in YaHoWha Joshua Aquarian by his side. He died, in his words, at the age of “eternal”.

    SKY SUNLIGHT SAXON, fell ill as early as Thursday, June 18th in his new home in Austin. Despite feeling under the weather Saturday, he performed a short set of SEEDS classics at the local night club Antone’s with his local collective WORLD SPIRITS, his favourite local Austin band SHAPES HAVE FANGS. After continuing illness, he was rushed to St David’s South Austin Hospital Monday morning & was immediately placed in ICU. He remained in critical condition in ICU until his passing several days later. Sky & his wife Sabrina recently moved to Austin, following his exciting headlining performance at the Austin Psych Fest #2 in March. Several tours were scheduled, including the East Coast/Mid-West tour in August with the California Revue, with members of LOVE & THE ELECTRIC PRUNES. The tour will still continue despite his absence.

    Sky had many projects in the works that will undoubtedly still be completed & released in the coming months if not years due to his wealth of creative material left behind. One of which is a documentary about his legendary band THE SEEDS to be released next year in 2010. The documentary chronicles the band’s activities with exclusive interviews with all original members, & rare never-before-seen footage of the band live & in session. The project is spear-headed by Alec Palao of Ace Records U.K. (The Zombies’ box set “Zombie Heaven”) –

    “Part of the impetus for the SEEDS documentary is to correct a lot of the misperceptions about the band,” explains documentary-maker ALEC PALAO, “and to properly state their role and achievements, and celebrate their music for what it is. The band were way ahead of their time, which I realize more and more as I go thru the nuts and bolts of their recordings. Due to various circumstances beyond the band’s control, the original integrity of what the band was doing got lumped in with the worst commercial hype of the psychedelic scene as it expanded. Ultimately it means that the hipsters and tastemakers got turned off by the hype, and those prejudices have remained with all the commentators and writers ever since. So THE DOORS remain hip and leaders and THE SEEDS are seen as commercial hippies, followers, or not even an authentic part of the initial movement, which of course is dead wrong. I’m doing my part to correct that!”

    Learn more about SKY SUNLIGHT SAXON by visiting
    these official sites:


    For inquiries, please contact:

    Jennifer Marchand
    Publicist :: Sky Sunlight Saxon
    “Pushin’ Too Hard” by THE SEEDS – Top 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
    Bleu French Laundry Rocknroll Promotions
    Austin, Texas

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