Our man in Languedoc Roussillon, Eddie Castellan, sent us this message the other day. I mentioned a musician friend of Eddie’s who had met KA near Montolieu in my book ‘Kevin Ayers: August 16th 2013, Deià’. Eddie says…
I met up with Stf (Steff) Delattre recently, the guy who played with KA. Stf, a French bluesman, was playing the 620 Club, a regular live music venue and restaurant at Fonties Cabardes about 9km from Montolieu. He said (in French): “I was setting up and this guy came over and asked to try one of my guitars. So he played a little and then he had to go and eat but maybe see you later. During the gig he came and joined me for four or five songs. I had no idea that it was Kevin Ayers. He was about 65 at the time and I didn’t recognise him. Afterwards Ivan, the restaurant owner, came over and said ‘did you realise who that was?’ I said no. Ivan said: ‘He comes in quite often to eat but he never ever plays.’
To our delight we managed to find some photographs of the club and the players! Many thanks to Eddie, Stf, Ivan, Christine, Club 620 and Les Chroniques de Carcassonne. And, of course, cheers to Kevin. It’s nice to know that he spent time amongst like-minded people in his later years in a beautiful place.
there is a subtext to your article that Kevin Ayers was a very private man in his later years and yet here you are doing the very thing he probably would have detested; posting a snapped photograph of him disheveled and damaged by the alcoholism that would end his life a few years later. Your article quotes your source as saying that Ayers did not introduce himself. In other words he just wanted to be a private man, play a bit of guitar without fuss or attention. Do you honestly think he would have been pleased with this invasion of his privacy or that he would have thought oh what a nice photo of me looking really together, I want that posted on the internet for everyone to see? It seems to me that you actually have zero respect for this man. Why else would you be heralding Diamond Jack And The Queen of Pain as some sort of classic Ayers album? In every Ayers interview where that album is mentioned the artist himself condemns it as a terrible embarrassment. Every artist has done bad work in their lifetime that they would like to forget and to be forgotten. Can you not respect that? Clearly not. You seem no different than those obsessed Syd Barrett fans who would stalk him and snap shot him carrying grocery bags or whatever. Do you think SB was really happy to have those dreadful photographs all over the internet? Think about it. Think about what it means to invade someone’s privacy.
Hi Martha, I think it is clear by the fact that we have spent a lot of time and effort building this website that we have the utmost respect for Kevin Ayers, his family, friends and his musical legacy. He always regarded fame as a double edged sword, his desire was to communicate. The photographs we found were from a website for the area around Carcassonne. They are not secretly “papped” distance shots, I think Kevin Ayers and Stf Delattre were well aware that Christine Escourrou was taking photographs of them, people often take photos of friends when they are playing or jamming, its natural. So many of Kevin Ayers’s contemporaries died young: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Marc Bolan, Nick Drake etc that we have a fixed idea of them at their peak, those still alive have probably reduced their rocknroll lifestyle somewhat: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Roger Daltrey etc.
Regarding “Diamond Jack and the Queen of Pain”, it is a difficult album, Kevin Ayers later said that he liked many of the songs but not the production that ended up on the album when it was finally recorded with Julian Ruiz in Madrid and released in 1983. We could compare the album with other 1983 releases, by veteran artists such as Bowie and the chart artists of the time, for example The Human League. Kevin Ayers was nearly forty in 1983, the music scene was changing dramatically, I think people are aware that it was a very difficult time for him professionally and personally. That is why we spoke to people who were actually working with Kevin Ayers at the time of “Diamond Jack” to hear their opinions before getting involved with the project. It is a very curious story which can only really be told when all the legal issues around the album and bonus tracks are resolved. There are however people out there who are curious to hear the album after all this time. Full credit to Kevin Ayers that he came back with “Falling Up”, the magical “Still Life with Guitar” and the deeply felt songs of “The Unfairground”. He also continued to tour professionally and also to play at the request of his fans during the 1990s and early 2000s. We admire and respect the work of this artist whole-heartedly.
I’m surprised you think we have no respect for Kevin, nothing could be further from the truth. From my first gig in 1977 to today, I have loved everything about Kevin and his music.
The photos look fine to me, I’ll be happy to look like that and I’ll also be happy if I’m still playing live when I’m 65.
Diamond Jack is a strange one I must admit, but the remastered tracks sound a lot nicer than the originals. At no point have we ever heralded it as ‘some sort of classic Ayers album’. We were honoured to be involved in the re-release of the album and we did our best to put the producer, Rob Caiger, in touch with the correct people to facilitate its release.
Thanks for the comment anyway, I’ll be interested to hear other people’s opinions.
I don’t think Martha is right here. Those photos or videos of Syd Barrett she mentions cannot be compared to these photos of Kevin, where he is doing what he is known for: playing music. One could argue that there is a bit of idolatry in what Rick or Susan write but I’ve never read something disrespectful here or in Susan’s book. The only thing close to sensationalism here is what Martha says about “the alcoholism that would end his life a few years later”. I don’t know exactly why Kevin died, I don’t know if alcohol had anything to do with it and I don’t know if in his latter years he was an alcoholic or not. And I don’t want to know.
However, I apreciate these entries on the blog that show him doing what he did best, I like “Diamond Jack” being re-released as an interesting point to understand the whole career of an artist and I would like to hear some day Kevin’s unreleased recordings from the last 20 years, because all of that have to do with Kevin’s music.
He also gave interviews about this time, so we know what he looked like, and I have seen much worse. Despite the dings, his beauty still shines through. Any musician who steps upon a stage wishes to be seen, its not like these photos were captured while he was passed out in a doorway.
Kevin Ayers music is superb and it is natural that those who appreciate it should seek more.
Diamond Jack of course overlaps with the Blau album and As Close as you think……..but all have worthwhile sound and should never be forgotten.
Kevin was a perfectionist .Productions cost money and the Harvest albums benefitted from the financial support EMI gave. I do not think though that there is a bad KA album ot there at all….including the live ones……..even the bootleg tapes like “Hurrah`s New York” is great for its wonderful version of “Africa”.
Personally, after seeing a live Kevin Ayers show, the world was a better place for several days.
His legacy is considerable….I believe he will be remembered for hundreds of years.