Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Dec 24, 2004 11:11:56 GMT
"British singer/songwriter Kevin Coyne has died at his home in Germany. The former social worker, who famously declined an offer to replace Jim Morrison in The Doors after the rocker died in 1971, died of complications from lung fibrosis. Born in Derby, England, in 1944, Coyne went solo in the early 1970s after teaming up with late radio legend John Peel to record on the DJ's Dandelion label. Coyne was one of the first artists signed to Richard Branson's Virgin label. As well as a cult singer/songwriter, Coyne was also a published poet and an artist. He lived most of his final years as a virtual recluse in his adopted Germany, but released his entire back catalogue a decade ago, featuring rare recordings Wild Tiger Love and Legless In Manila."
Sad to see Kevin Coyne died last week. I was brought up hearing his voice as my sisters hubby was a big fan of Kev's band Siren. Never called myself a fan of Kev and Siren but all Doors fans should be aware that he was one of three front runners for Jim's spot in 1972. Siren had been signed to Elektra via Dandelion and Jac Holzman was fond of Kev which is why he was put forward with other Holzman fave Howard Werth and Bronco singer Jess Roden to join The Doors. Kevs voice was distinctive and although I was rooting for Werth at the time he would have been able to capture the spirit of The Doors if he had gotten the gig. I alays find it sad when someone I was brought up hearing passes on. The list is long and will only get longer.... RIP Kev!
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Dec 25, 2004 10:59:18 GMT
Here is an interview Kevin did a few years ago which mentions (although rather confusing the actual facts) his part in the Post Jim story. It's interesting enough if anyone wants to learn anything about the guy who was considered by people like Jac Holzman to be good enough to walk in Jim's shoes.
KEVIN COYNE Abrasive folk-blues-rocker Kevin Coyne has done several dozen albums since the late 1960s that reflect an interest in, and even affinity with, social outcasts and maladjusted behavior. Plenty of critics have assumed that Coyne was as mad as his music. It's doubtful that any madman, however, could keep up the hectic pace of work that Coyne has. In addition to his numerous albums, he's published acclaimed collections of short stories, plays, and poems, and has exhibited his paintings in German and English galleries for decades. His sardonic vocal delivery and black-comic portraits of misfits made him a critical favorite in the 1970s. John Lydon (nee Johnny Rotten), always grudging in his praise, even admitted Coyne as an influence. Never more than a hazy underground favorite in the U.S., Coyne's work all but disappeared from stateside distribution since his relocation to Germany in the 1980s. Since I spoke to him in early 1997, however, his most recent indie albums have gained more Stateside exposure than anything in decades, and he's even managed to do a little touring across the Atlantic.
Were you doing much music before you recorded with Siren in the late 1960s?
When I first started in bands, this was in the late '50s, I guess. We were doing Chuck Berry and Little Richard, the people I liked. It was a band called the Vulcans. It was one of numerous local bands in Derby. It was very much a rock'n'roll thing, pre-Beatles thing. Then I went to the junior art school, then I went on to an art school proper, art school academy if you like, in Derby, and finished there in '65. During that time, I didn't do too much with bands, although you've got to remember around that time there was the blues boom, as they called it in England, where the Stones went up and all that. I got into that, as opposed to being directly sort of connected with rock and roll, so the two things mixed together.
I was always singing in pubs. But the last real bands I was in before Siren [were] in the late '50s really. There was a long gap. See, my brother was always a sort of jazz musician. My sister's an opera singer, amongst many other things. And music was around the house a lot. I sang with my brother sometimes, too. A fairly broad musical education. But I started out as an artist, a painter, really, and a printmaker, etcher, this kind of thing.
Even from the time you started with Siren, there seemed to be an affinity in your songs with social outsiders.
You've got to remember that around that time I was working in an asylum, basically. I left art school, and I went to do art and other things in a mental hospital in the north of England. This coincided with a lot of things I was doing on record, or taping with [Dave] Clague. And the things were very much on my mind. I was very concerned about what went on. I guess I do have an affection for outsiders, but I got much of it when I was working, just over three years, in this hospital. I was going down to London at certain points, doing some recordings, bits and pieces, with Clague. This is what came out. A lot of the things were to do with the day-to-day events that I was dealing with in the hospital. It was quite natural, I guess. I like to use music and whatever I do as a source of therapy as much as anything else, to get some of this out, and it was a good opportunity.
Was there much of a change in your approach when you stopped playing with Siren and became a solo artist?
Not much, really. I was very much concerned to get a sense of language across and a picture of the world as I saw it. That remained pretty well unchanged when I transferred from Siren to being a solo artist. Siren as such didn't really exist. We did some gigs, but it would fairly fluctuate...the root of it really was Nick Cudworth, the piano player. He and I lived together for a couple of years in a flat in London. We did most of the songs, really. He was a bluesman. I met him at art school in the early '60s, and Clague was the man with the music business connections, having been once in the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. He knew a bit about how to get on, and how to get record contracts and things.
But as such, Siren was an invention, really. Guitarists came and went, drummers came and went. The root of it really was myself and Nick Cudworth. We'd been fiddling about, writing bits and pieces, from the early '60s. Clague's business sense was put on top of that, and Siren was sort of formed. It was never much of a gigging band, or working band. But as to my basic attitudes, I'm very much rooted in socialism, and pretty left-wing to some extent, around that time. And all of that came through too, and remains pretty much unchanged when I went solo.
The subject matter of your songs hasn't changed that much since then.
No it hasn't, really. It's still the same. Well, I mean, I got better at it. Obviously, I think some of those early things, those Siren things...you've got to remember, they were recorded in living rooms and kitchens, really, and the most primitive form of studio. Most of it wasn't really intended ever to [be] put out, although Dave Clague seems to have cornered the market in that and put most of them out [on the DJC label]. I don't agree necessarily with that. I think I would have been a lot more selective. Much of it was fooling around, at least half of it. But as you can gather from that, it was very spontaneous, really. Some of it works, some of it doesn't. I tend to work on that principle to this day, really.
I mean, I do write. I write books and things. I write things on paper, and have a concern for language, the written word. But when I do songs, I tend to be very spontaneous. I like to mirror the moment and the time. That all sounds very idealistic, but I'm a great believer in that. I learned something from the bluesmen, this kind of attitude. Very open-ended and responding to whatever the day brings, really, or life at that time. Sounds all very grand. I think at best it really works. It doesn't sound so manufactured as some pop music efforts sound.
I've seen it reported that you were considered as a replacement for Jim Morrison in the Doors, right after he died.
The fact of the matter is, it's true really, in the sense that I was...the day after Jim Morrison was dead, I got a call from the manager of Elektra in Europe, at the time a guy called Clive Selwood. [He] asked me, would I come around to the office in London, which was not so far because I was living in London anyway, and talk about this...it was an idea. I have to say I didn't show too much enthusiasm, and nothing more was heard about it. Maybe I should have shown more enthusiasm, maybe I would have got the job, I don't know. But certainly the fact that the early Siren things came out on Elektra [the Doors' label] was a connection. All I know is that nothing more was heard of it after not showing a great deal of interest. Probably [they] thought I was an ungrateful swine or something. But I really didn't fancy it anyway.
So Morrison wasn't even buried yet, and the label was thinking of a possible replacement already?
Such are the machinations of the record industry. Not much sentiment around. What I found astonishing now is this awful band from England called Bush, who are basically a copy of Nirvana to the last degree. Enormously popular in the States, and not only that, the lead singer is going out with, or I suppose is having some sort of relationship with Kurt Cobain's ex-wife. I find it astonishing. No sentiment or taste anywhere, and I think this story I've just related about the Doors is somewhat similar. There wasn't any question of, you know, poor old Jim, let's give him a bit of a rest now. It was like, got to keep the money wheels turning, keep the cash registers going. It was certainly, almost the next day, I would say. It was certainly within a few days. But anyway, as I say, such is the music business.
"That's the trouble with reality!.... it's taken far too seriously! I do hope God is good to me and Santa Claus to the children! Celebrate...this parties over...I'm going home!"
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Dec 25, 2004 11:00:18 GMT
How did you end up being one of the first acts on Virgin Records?
Well, that was interesting. They rang me one day. Richard Branson, actually. I think he was fairly rich then [already]. He rang me, I guess either '72 or '73, I can't remember exactly when -- '72, I think it probably was. I went down to meet them, and I thought they were just a record shop. I was rather ignorant, I didn't realize that they had sort of recording ambitions. But I went to meet him and realized they were very serious. They admired things like Dandelion Records , and they wanted to create an alternative label, as it was at that time. So I went over and signed up. Simple really.
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Dec 25, 2004 11:00:30 GMT
I've also read that the Police cited you as an inspiration.
I think that came from way, way back, from an interview in the Melody Maker or something, in the early days of Police. I can remember Police coming in rehearsal rooms near to where I was rehearsing, and all of us laughing, because we thought, this is Andy's last shot to make something. And they all look rather old to be, I suppose, punks. They didn't look like punks at all anyway. But I was very impressed by the early Police, really. Not now, I find it all rather naive. But at the time, I thought they were rather good. So Sting said whatever he said in his interview, which is true, he did say something to the effect that it moved him. Maybe just a passing fancy on his part, but it seems to have hung around in press releases ever since.
Despite any influence you might have had on famous acts like the Police, you yourself never seemed to make it into the mainstream.
I never did, really. I didn't really consider myself to be underground, rather than just around, I would say. I don't know -- I just thought I would carry on. Most of what I do now is based on the fact that when I do a gig, which is quite frequently, miraculously, there's always a decent crowd there (laughs). Which makes me think, well, the records might not be in every shop. I might not be on radio all the time. But the audience is still there. And that's what motivated me then. 'Cause I've always been very much a live performer, you know. It's more efficient to say [that's] what I do as an artist, if you like, and I pride myself on putting on a good show, as they say. So it didn't really affect me too much. I just carried on doing what I was doing, really. With the idea that I could get better at it, and I think I did.
I very early on cottoned on to the idea that people like to be entertained and amused and shocked. And the theatrical aspect of what I do has been very much ignored by people who haven't seen the gigs, or don't know that part of it. And I don't think the records generally all reflect pretty well -- they reflect part of what I do, but live performances are very different. The lyrics from the records are often forgotten, and tunes are changed round. Everything's turned upside down, depending on the venue and the time. It can be almost a comedy show some nights, and very serious another night. But I regard myself as an entertainer as much as anything.
So with that in mind, what was going on in fashion didn't have much to do with it really. I thought there'd always be a part for me, as long as I put on a good show. And it's proven to be right, actually.
As long as we're clearing up misconceptions that might be circulating in press releases, are reports that you were going crazy yourself around the early 1980s true?
That was based on a divorce, really, where I split up with my wife in London. Had a house in London. Still do, but it's not mine anymore. And having friends here in Germany and somewhere to go and making a fresh start and all the things that go with divorce really -- all very painful and rather unpleasant, but alright now.
You've got to remember that a German record company, and particularly Rockport Records, amiable and nice -- they can be quite inaccurate on occasion. I mean, I did have a sort of nervous breakdown. And I did have problems with alcohol. But not to the extent that it's pushed in some of those press releases, I think. I've not seen them for years -- I'm rather embarrassed by them when I read them. But I guess it's all based on things I said at the time, when I first got to know Rockport. But it's true, yes, I did have a couple of very bad years, really. These days, I think there's a lot of emphasis put on it somehow. And some people who've seen the show realize I'm not some miserable cowed...this is a general impression that often comes across, sometimes, with some of the records. I think that's one of my images. I'd rather play down all that mental stuff, because basically that's just many years ago. But it's true that I did have...I didn't actually enter a hospital for treatment, but I came pretty close to it.
How do you rate your records in the 1980s and 1990s?
I think a certain rigidity creeps in [in] the mid-'80s. There's a less flowing, sort of working with younger provincial German musicians. I don't say that in a nasty way, but it does show occasionally. A certain lack of improvisation in the studio. Possibly my least favorite albums are that period. But I love a lot of the last three albums. The new one I've just done is the favorite, but on reflection the change was the working style in a German studio. It may be a cliche, but there's a certain rigidity there. It could be something to do with the language, too, the fact that I'm singing in English, and most of them are talking German, etc.
But it's very hard to make it sort of loose here. They have a great respect for the machines, and the guitars all have to have six strings on them, and everything has to be in order. It doesn't suit my way of going about things. I've always thought they were the least important things, at least in what I did. Just to get it down and get it right, to get something of a feeling of how I feel, was the most important thing. But in many instances, it's not the case here. The most important thing is to get what they call a good studio sound. What the hell that is, I've never known, and I've never found out.
Of the musicians you've collaborated with over the years, which were the ones that were the best?
One is Brian Godding. I think he's a great musician, very interesting performer. As a guitar player, I think he's extremely underrated, full of music. Andy Summers was an interesting guy to work with. Not simply that he's well known -- I think he's got a very special sound. Rather neat and tidy for my sort of purposes, but nonetheless he had his own mind, and brought something [of] himself into the situation. Recently I've been working with Gary Lucas, the former Beefheart guitar player, who's worked with people like Joan Osborne, Tim Buckley's son, and he's an interesting player too. I liked his work very much. He's on the new album, which is not out yet. Gordon Smith, also -- very interesting slide player from the Marjory Razorblade period. Very underrated player, I think. Everybody brought something to the situation. But they're my favorites, the ones I just mentioned.
You also write fiction and work as an artist, in addition to doing your music. Are you going to be focusing on one field more than the other?
I'm trying to keep them all going. I've just given up smoking, which is, at the age of 53, quite tough after a lifetime of puffing away. This was my main obsession this last week. But seriously no, the gig list sheet of where I'm playing in the next few months seems to be more than ever, including French tours, and many gigs in Germany. Not so many exhibitions at the moment, artwise. Writing-wise, I still haven't...I'm looking for the perfect publisher, I think, at the moment, or something. But I'm very much involved with all three of those things, really. I'd like to put out mountains of stuff that I've got there. Some of it, I think, is far superior to the stuff that's already come out. Maybe stories or things. Serpent's Tail, the London publisher, are very good, very highly rated on the sort of underground, or overground really, these days. But somehow, I guess, I'm always looking for the perfect everything.
I would say that Rockport Records, as it stands, have done a good job for me. 'Cause I'm not really looking to do the next something, I'm me. And that's enough. But some people still have this misguided notion that you want to be like Mick Jagger, or whatever it is. Or you're copying the Smashing Pumpkins -- "you must have heard them." They forget how long you've been around.
A lot of the stories in your short story collection Show Business are about rock musicians. Was a lot of that drawn from your own experiences?
It does at a certain point. A sense of the British musician's overriding sense of cynicism about everything rather creeps into that book on occasion. A lot of it comes from that time, mid-'70s touring and things said, in vans and in dressing rooms. It's still with a sense of humor, I hope. A lot of people seem to think it was done out of bitterness, which it certainly isn't. It's done with a sense of horror, really, at how these things -- they're versions of things which really did happen. It was meant to amuse, but certain people didn't like it, maybe because they saw something of themselves in it, I don't know. I don't care either, really. All I know is that the musicians who've read it have laughed their heads off. I must be reaching somebody and doing the right thing. Richie Unterberger 2000
"That's the trouble with reality!.... it's taken far too seriously! I do hope God is good to me and Santa Claus to the children! Celebrate...this parties over...I'm going home!"
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Dec 25, 2004 11:02:35 GMT
Coyne of the Realm Also This Issue
Kevin Coyne has defined the fringe of musical expression for his entire career By Brian Baker
Kevin Coyne For the past 40-plus years, Kevin Coyne has occupied a narrow sliver of musical consciousness, a psychedelic folkie with a progressive Blues Rock heart, a penchant for experimentalism and an impossibly low tolerance for repetition in any form. He has amassed a cult following as fiercely loyal as it is diminutive, and yet, even to his most ardent supporters over the years, Coyne has resolutely remained a creative enigma, refusing to cater to any whims other than his own.
Even as he has relentlessly pursued obscurity, Coyne is inextricably linked to one of the most cataclysmic events in musical history. A barely considered decision he made 30 years ago could have thrust him permanently into history's most penetrating spotlight, a figure on the worldwide stage that could have generated equal measures of immense adulation and overwhelming derision.
In 1971, Coyne was the lead singer for an English blues/folk outfit called Siren. The band had released a couple of marginally well-received albums on DJ John Peel's Dandelion Records and had been picked up for distribution in the US by Elektra Records.
On July 3, 1971, singer/poet/ shaman Jim Morrison, the incendiary frontman for The Doors, died in a Paris bathtub, his legendary excesses leading to a fatal heart attack at the Rock & Roll age of 27. Within days of Morrison's death, the surviving Doors made inquiries as to the possibility of replacing Morrison. It had only been three months since the release of L.A. Woman, and its enormous success almost demanded a tour to support it.
Only three singers were considered as possible replacements for Morrison: None were ever installed, and The Doors made two passable albums as a trio before finally parting company in 1973. The first and most probable name of all was The Stooges' Iggy Pop, a known Rock commodity and an outrageous frontman in his own right. The second was Howard Werth, who bore a physical resemblance to Morrison and was fronting a band called Audience at the time. And the third, and perhaps unlikeliest of all, was Kevin Coyne. If the three shared any characteristic at all, it was Jac Holtzman, president of Elektra Records. Both the Stooges and Audience were under contract to Elektra, and Coyne's Siren was licensed through the label, so the band may have had a limited pool to draw from. Whatever the circumstances, Coyne was resolutely against the idea of joining the Doors in any capacity.
"My manager in London was head of the European Elektra operations, and he put my name forward," says Coyne from the West Virginia stop on his current limited U.S. tour. "With the result that one morning I was asked to come into the office and talk about this idea. I didn't show any enthusiasm, so it was forgotten. I didn't like The Doors to be honest. I like them today, but at that particular time I wasn't impressed. The thought of those leather trousers put me off as much as anything."
By the time of The Doors offer, Coyne had already lived an incredibly varied life. Born to a generationally gifted musical family, Coyne attended art school in the early '60s, which led him oddly enough to a career in social therapy at a mental hospital. In 1968, he joined Siren and began to pursue his musical career more seriously, having sporadically moonlighted as a singer/songwriter throughout the '50s and '60s in local bands. The year after The Doors opportunity, Coyne split from Siren and left the mental health profession for a solo music career. His first album, Case History, featured songs whose inspirations had been grounded in Coyne's experiences with the mentally ill.
A series of critically acclaimed but confoundingly different albums in the '70s for Virgin Records (Marjory Razor Blade, Matching Head and Feet, Blame It on the Night) gave Coyne a profile, but his propensity for style variation made him a low priority for promotion. He began dabbling in musical theater, writing a number of productions, including Babble, a musical concerning the Moors murders of the '60s, that he recorded with German vocalist Dagmar Krause, but which was banned due to a misunderstanding over its content.
By 1981, Coyne had been in the music business for a dozen years, and it had begun to take its toll. His drinking was spiraling out of control and his work schedule had become grueling. The combination of alcoholism and exhaustion led Coyne to a complete nervous breakdown, but only a slight lessening of recording and performing activities through the early '80s.
"I didn't go into hospital or anything," says Coyne in retrospect. "I had a caring wife and family who supported me through the nightmare. I carried on working. I made an album in pretty poor condition, at least I was, called Sanity Stomp, around that time. I plodded my way through it, and everybody nodding and smiling and me thinking everything was normal. But when you're mad, you don't know. It just faded. It was a dark time for everybody. And I couldn't draw on my early experiences ironically. I had these intellectual insights into schizophrenia, but when I actually had a breakdown myself, I was totally unprepared for the horror."
In 1985, Coyne relocated from London to Germany, a move that was fine for Coyne as a creative artist but not particularly good for Coyne's public persona. Although he made a number of well-received albums during the late '80s and early '90s, few were released outside of Germany, and none were available domestically in America, further reducing his recognition.
"My name almost left the map for awhile," says Coyne. "Germany is hardly the center of the Rock & Roll world. I was working and recording albums, one a year, and touring all around Europe as ever, just not as much in Britain."
The last six years have been a fruitful period for Coyne, one that has seen his profile around the world gain momentum. In 1995, he wrote and recorded The Adventures of Crazy Frank, an album that mutated into an improvised stage show about the life of English comedian Frank Randle. In 1997, Coyne recorded the stellar double album Knocking On Your Brain, featuring guests Jeff Buckley, Joan Osborne and former Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas.
Coyne's '99 album, Sugar Candy Taxi, marked his debut with Ruf Records and the first time in years his albums had been available in the U.S. His latest album, the raucous and amazing Room Full of Fools, is his second full collaboration with his son, Robert (a working relationship that goes back to their recording of some John Peel sessions 10 years ago), and an incredible return to the form that he exhibited on his work in the '70s. He is understandably proud of the album and heartened by the attention it seems to be receiving.
"You think nobody knows and they do," says Coyne. "That's the beauty of the Internet. My Web site (www.kevincoyne.de) gets sufficient interest to make me feel that there are people around the world who know what I do. It hasn't been as overwhelming as some people think it should, but I'm all right with that."
At this point in his career, Coyne is content to continue doing exactly as he has always done, which is literally whatever he wants to do. He is an accomplished artist, with frequent gallery shows around Europe, he's written five books of short stories and plays, and he contributes drawings and reviews records by way of a cartoon strip for a German newspaper. And he writes and records in whatever style suits his current fancy, his method of operation for the past three decades.
"I do most of my stuff directly in the studio," says Coyne. "It's a bit hit-and-miss on occasion, but I like the freshness of it. I don't spend hours in lonely bedrooms hammering out a number. It's all very spontaneous. This one is bit more gutsy."
Despite his near membership in The Doors, Kevin Coyne is barely a footnote to musical history. Even with the ringing endorsement of John Lydon, better known as Punk avatar Johnny Rotten, who credited Coyne as being a huge influence on his eventual style, very few people outside of a small legion of fans know Coyne's work and history. Characteristically, Coyne blames no one but himself for his circumstances.
"I'm not a guy for thrusting myself forward into high profile situations for a start," says Coyne honestly. "And I didn't find a product and continue to market it. I'm always changing. This makes it difficult to categorize. In the Virgin years, my records sold pretty good, and the company, as ever, wanted the same thing again. But I didn't do that. Critical success came, but wasn't followed up. I did what I wanted to do. That may have stymied things a little for me. But even so, I'm not at all discontent about that. Having people applaud on every street corner is not really my idea of heaven." City Beat Volume 7 August 22nd 2001
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on Dec 25, 2004 11:07:18 GMT
KEVIN COYNE- AN OVERVIEW by Chris Plummer (May 1997)
In the mid-to-late 60's, Great Britain saw a revival of American Blues. It was paradoxical that an art-form so molded by the Negro's experience in American society should get its most recognition and exposure from white Europeans. Not only did many famous musicians come from that era (Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, Jeff Beck, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, to name a few) but for that brief time, the American fathers of the genre got their due- performances in front of large and appreciative audiences, and swanky hotel rooms. It was during this huge revival that a young art student named Kevin Coyne put up a flyer at the Derby School For The Arts seeking to jam some blues.
Kevin Coyne was born in Derby in 1944. He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest talents ever produced out of Europe. His voice cuts to your soul, while tingling your spine along the way. His deep, powerful cords give a voice to society's outcasts- the mentally ill (with whom he worked with for many years after dropping out of art school), the working class, battered women, the countless lonely, the deserted elderly. But, all the people he so champions in his songs are also a parallel to himself- a stoic loner cast into the arena of popular music.
The two albums from Siren (his first recorded band) are ostensibly clean Chicago-style blues played by young Brits. But, through the cracks, a deeper side comes out. Buried near the end of the first album's collection of jumping and grooving blues is a somber, mysterious solo song by Kevin. Titled "Asylum," the song is just Kevin and two acoustic guitar tracks. The song is no doubt influenced by Kevin's work with the insane. The song is a monologue of an insane man, talking to you, telling you of the cold dank place where he lives. A place where he is neglected and uncared for. Ending with the echoy moaning lines "And trees are talking, and the bushes, they got fleas."
Siren released a second album, Strange Locomotion. This contains another odd duck Coyne penned composition, 'Hold My Hand', a warbly, strangely tuned guitar and Kevin's telling of a relationship between a man in his mid twenties, and a much, much older woman, who is only into young guys, and dumps the guy for a 9 year old (!). Thanks to a largely unresponsive music audience, Kevin left Siren. It is also around this time that Jac Holzman, president of Elektra Records, the American distributor of Siren's records, called Kevin in the wake of Jim Morrison's death. Holzman asked for Kevin to replace Morrison. Kevin refused, and the Doors made a brief attempt to continue.
"One of my greatest fears is to walk into a room full of hit records," is what Kevin once said to as why he didn't seek a pop star's life. Instead of singing about the life of a rock and roll hedonist, Kevin penned songs that delved deep. A long string of legendary albums followed Siren, and still continues up until the day. Along the way, he had legendary Brit musicians back him up- keyboardist Zoot Money, guitarist Andy Summers (Police), and Brian Godding (Magma), just to name a few.
Coyne released his first LP in 1972, Case History, on John Peel's Dandelion label. With just a guitar, and a few of Siren's members here and there, Kevin stuns the listener with stories of love, anger, independence, and the psychiatric patients he had begun to work with after dropping out of art school. The album begins with a happy, joyous blues "God Bless The Bride," a song about a wedding and hopes for a happy life, and ends with the opus "Sand All Yellow," a tale between a nurse who only wants to provide comfort for a almost dead patient, and a surgeon (butcher) who only wants to cut and cut into the poor woman.
After Case History, Kevin was phoned by Richard Branson, the soon to be multimillionaire media mogul. Richard was then starting Virgin Records, and was seeking acts. Kevin was part of the first signings to the label that included Mike Oldfield and Gong.
Kevin's first L.P. for Virgin in 1973 was the double-set Marjory Razorblade Continuing with the same themes as Case History, but this time with a full-band, Kevin raged and raved on what is his most critically acclaimed L.P.'s The rich, ivory tower elderly get a ribbing in "Eastbourne Ladies" in stark contrast to society's forgetting of the elderly that built Britain "Old Soldier." Kevin's work with the crazy gets further treatment in the epic "House On The Hill." Plus, the L.P. contains this author's favorite song, "Marlene," a rousing ode to a amorous man constantly trying to get some action from a beautiful recluse hermitess..
Other albums followed- Blame It On The Night Matching Head And Feet, Heartburn and others that fell into the rock/folk formula. Kevin played constantly throughout Europe, and was quite a noted showman, putting his all into performances, and using outside forms such as drama and poetry to get his point across. The landmark of his this era of his career was In Living Black And White a live set that chronicled his career up to that point. The 1978 LP, Dynamite Daze (a song dedicated to Sid Vicious) closed the chapter of Kevin as the psychedelic blues man. Kevin broke up his band, and started to work with stipped-down studio line-ups, and opting to play solo live. The first LP showing the new stripped down approach was Millionaires And Teddybears (1979) Kevin now started to get into biting criticisms of the record industry in "Having A Party" A great song put to a mutant slow blues beat, as Kevin is a guest at pop's wild party, and being kicked out when Kevin himself, an honest man, doesn't fit in with the treachery that is necessary to be famous. (ED NOTE: Years later, the Mekons would cover this song for their F.U.N. '90 EP)
Then, came the marvelous Babble, (1980), an album done with Henry Cow/Slapp Happy's marvelous Dagmar Krause. Babble was a very controversial LP, and the stage-play of it was quite protested. The story is of The Moors Murderers, and Kevin's attempt to find the love they shared before their personal and public demise. Kevin took this stripped down approach to the extreme in Bursting Bubbles- his most artistic release. It is also his most difficult to listen to. Dark, murky production, bare arrangements with a howling, disturbed voice in the front. Kevin always seemed to be ahead of his time- his early work predated punk's fury, and this almost foresees the Goth. scene. (in the author's humble opinion).
Kevin's last LP for Virgin was the double-set, Sanity Stomp (1980). In light of his previous, introspective releases, Kevin has a full band on disc one- punk outsiders The Ruts. With a body of songs written in a weekend, Kevin and The Ruts play the mutant house-rockin' band. Disc two is quite different- Kevin, with guests Robert Wyatt, Brian Godding, and others improvise to Kevin's lyrics, recitations. It's almost like a lost Robert Wyatt solo LP.
Sadly, around this time, Kevin started to go through some problems. He suffered a nervous breakdown, and went through a divorce. However, Kevin kept putting out music, though his alcoholism started to get out of hand. Kevin left Virgin and signed with the nascent Cherry Red, who gave Kevin more artist control, and left him room to what he wanted without fear of commercial failure.
Kevin released Pointing The Finger (1981) and Politicz (1982) for Cherry Red - two great releases. Pointing The Finger featured Brian Godding on guitar. Kevin and company rock out to some angular jazz rock. Kevin still expored the same themes - treatment of the elderly ('Old Lady') a fallen England ('Pointing the Finger') and it gives light to what has been happening ('There She Goes'). Kevin shows he is not hiding anything. Politicz is quite bizarre- side one is all acoustic, Kevin on voice, backed up by a guitarist and keyboardist. Side two shows a different Kevin- Kevin sings/narrarates to electronic synth rock. Visions of OMD and Ultravox flash before your eyes!
After his two Cherry Red releases, Kevin's mental state worsened to the point that his marriage dissolved, and his dependence on alchohol continued, along with the pressure to keep his career going. After his divorce, Kevin left England, and relocated to Germany. He continued to release music steadily throught the 80's, backed up by The Paradise Band.
Through the support of his friends and fans, Kevin soon started to pick himself up by the boot straps. The 90's sees Kevin back in action, producing music and art work at a phenomenal rate! The Alcoholic has turned himself into the Workaholic! Today, Kevin has a busy European touring schedule (either with duo with another guitarist, or with his Paradise Band) And, his artwork has been getting quite high-profile showings. Also, old Siren band-mate Dave Clague has released a few CD's of Siren out-takes and rarities. Kevin's new album, Knocking On Your Brain, features help from Gary Lucas, guitarist extrodinaire whose credits include Captain Beefheart and Joan Osbourne. He has a few books under his belt now: The Party Dress, a collection of short stories and poems, Show Business, Kevin's musings on the music world, and The Secret Lives of Teddybears, a German children's book. If that is not enough, there are plans in the works for Kevin to come over to the U.S. for a short tour this Fall!!
"That's the trouble with reality!.... it's taken far too seriously! I do hope God is good to me and Santa Claus to the children! Celebrate...this parties over...I'm going home!"