Mars Williams Dead: Remembering Mars Williams, Sax Player for Psychedelic Furs and Waitresses, Dies at 68

Mars Williams Dead: Remembering Mars Williams, Sax Player for Psychedelic Furs and Waitresses, Dies at 68.Let’s find out more here:

Williams’ saxophone skills were a vital component of the Waitresses, contributing to their iconic songs such as “Christmas Wrapping” and “I Know What Boys Like.” He later joined the Psychedelic Furs, initially as a temporary replacement for their saxophonist, but ended up staying with the band for several years.

While Williams primarily focused on jazz, he also collaborated with various rock and jazz musicians, including Billy Idol, the Killers, and Jerry Garcia. He was known for his versatility and enthusiasm, redefining what it means to be a modern saxophone player.

Williams’ musical journey included leading the annual “Ayler Xmas Tour,” combining the music of Albert Ayler with Christmas carols. He was a member of numerous ensembles and was recognized for his contributions to the Chicago group Liquid Soul, which received a Grammy nomination in 2001.

Despite his passing, Williams’ legacy will be celebrated through a benefit concert featuring his longtime bandmates in Liquid Soul, along with other notable musicians.

Mars Williams: A Tribute to a Legendary Saxophone Player

Passing of Mars Williams

The music world mourns the loss of Mars Williams, a renowned saxophone player who left an indelible mark on the industry. Known for his exceptional talent and contributions to various bands and ensembles, Williams passed away on Monday at the age of 68. His musical journey was filled with remarkable achievements and collaborations that will forever be remembered.

Diagnosis and Cause of Death

Williams’ passing was a result of ampullary cancer, a rare form of the disease. He was diagnosed with this illness a year ago, and despite his courageous battle, he succumbed to its effects. Ampullary cancer affects the ampulla of Vater, a small opening where the bile duct and pancreatic duct join together. Williams’ struggle with this condition serves as a reminder of the importance of early detection and ongoing research in the fight against cancer.

Throughout his career, Williams showcased his extraordinary talent on the saxophone, leaving audiences captivated by his soulful melodies and improvisations. His contributions to the Waitresses and the Psychedelic Furs, among other notable bands, solidified his status as a musical icon. Williams’ saxophone became an integral part of the Waitresses’ sound, with his distinctive playing heard on beloved tracks like “Christmas Wrapping” and “I Know What Boys Like.” His collaboration with the Psychedelic Furs spanned several years, leaving an indelible mark on their music.

Beyond his work with these renowned bands, Williams also made significant contributions to the jazz scene. He was a member of the Chicago group Liquid Soul for an impressive 25 years, earning a Grammy nomination for their contemporary jazz record in 2001. Williams’ versatility as a saxophone player allowed him to seamlessly blend bebop with hip-hop, creating a unique and captivating sound.

Williams’ impact extended beyond his collaborations with well-known artists. He led various ensembles and participated in numerous live performances and recordings, showcasing his immense talent and passion for music. His annual “Ayler Xmas Tour,” combining the music of Albert Ayler with Christmas carols, became a cherished tradition for many.

Born in Elmhurst, Illinois, in 1955, Williams began his musical journey playing classical clarinet before transitioning to the saxophone. He drew inspiration from jazz legends such as Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker, eventually finding his own voice and style. Williams’ dedication to his craft and his ability to infuse enthusiasm into every note he played made him a true saxophone virtuoso.

In addition to his musical accomplishments, Williams was an advocate for fellow musicians, actively supporting the MusiCares program and helping those struggling with addiction. His commitment to sobriety for over two decades served as an inspiration to many.

As we bid farewell to Mars Williams, we celebrate his extraordinary talent, his contributions to the world of music, and the lasting impact he has left behind. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations of musicians, ensuring that his remarkable spirit lives on.

Contributions to The Waitresses and The Psychedelic Furs

Mars Williams Dead: Sax Player for Psychedelic Furs, Waitresses Was 68

Saxophone Work with The Waitresses

Mars Williams’ saxophone prowess left an indelible mark on the music of The Waitresses. During his time with the band from 1980 to 1983, Williams’ saxophone became a defining element of their sound. His melodic and energetic playing can be heard on iconic tracks like “Christmas Wrapping,” “Square Pegs,” and “I Know What Boys Like.” Williams’ saxophone solos added a unique and vibrant dimension to the band’s music, captivating listeners and solidifying his reputation as a talented saxophonist.

Collaboration with The Psychedelic Furs

Following his tenure with The Waitresses, Mars Williams was invited to join The Psychedelic Furs as a saxophone player. What was initially meant to be a temporary replacement for their resident saxophonist turned into a long-lasting collaboration that spanned from 1983 to 1989. Williams’ saxophone skills seamlessly integrated with the band’s alternative rock sound, enhancing their live performances and studio recordings. His contributions to The Psychedelic Furs’ music added depth and richness, elevating their sound to new heights. Williams’ saxophone became an integral part of the band’s identity, leaving an enduring impact on their discography.

Versatility and Jazz Career

Work with Liquid Soul and Grammy Nomination

Mars Williams’ musical journey extended beyond his contributions to renowned bands. He showcased his versatility and love for jazz through his work with the Chicago group Liquid Soul. For an impressive 25 years, Williams was a member of this funk-jazz ensemble, known for their unique fusion of bebop and hip-hop. Their innovative sound caught the attention of critics and audiences alike, earning them a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Record in 2001. Williams’ saxophone skills played a pivotal role in shaping the band’s distinctive sound, captivating listeners with his soulful melodies and electrifying solos.

Collaborations with Various Rock and Jazz Musicians

Mars Williams’ talent and reputation as a saxophone virtuoso led to collaborations with a diverse range of rock and jazz musicians. His ability to seamlessly adapt to different musical styles and genres made him a sought-after collaborator. Williams had the privilege of performing with notable artists such as Billy Idol, the Killers, Power Station, and Wayne Kramer, to name just a few. His saxophone skills added depth and texture to their music, elevating their performances to new heights. Williams’ versatility as a musician allowed him to effortlessly navigate between rock and jazz, leaving his mark on each collaboration and showcasing his ability to connect with artists from various musical backgrounds.

Unique Projects and Ensembles

An Ayler Xmas Tour and Christmas Carols

Mars Williams’ creativity and passion for pushing musical boundaries led him to embark on unique projects that showcased his innovative spirit. One of his most cherished endeavors was the annual “Ayler Xmas Tour.” This tour combined the music of free-jazz great Albert Ayler with the beloved melodies of Christmas carols. Williams’ ability to blend these seemingly disparate genres created a captivating and enchanting experience for audiences. The fusion of Ayler’s avant-garde jazz with the familiar tunes of Christmas carols demonstrated Williams’ ability to reimagine and breathe new life into traditional music, leaving a lasting impression on all who experienced it.

Other Ensembles and Notable Recordings

In addition to his work with Liquid Soul and collaborations with renowned artists, Mars Williams led and participated in various other ensembles throughout his career. These included the NRG Ensemble, Trio No Mas, the Chicago Reed Quartet, the Mars Williams Music Book Orchestra, and Boneshaker. Each ensemble showcased Williams’ versatility and his ability to adapt to different musical contexts.

Williams’ talent and creativity were further highlighted through his notable recordings. One standout example was his saxophone solo on Kesha’s cover of “Children of the Revolution” on a T. Rex tribute album produced by the late Hal Willner. This collaboration demonstrated Williams’ ability to infuse his unique style into diverse musical projects, leaving a lasting impact on the recordings he contributed to.

Through his involvement in these unique projects and ensembles, Mars Williams continued to push the boundaries of music, showcasing his versatility and unwavering dedication to his craft. His ability to seamlessly blend genres and reimagine familiar tunes solidified his status as a true musical innovator.

Early Life, Influences, and Philanthropy

Background and Musical Influences

Mars Williams’ musical journey was shaped by his early life and the influences that sparked his passion for music. Born in Elmhurst, Illinois in 1955, Williams initially honed his skills playing the classical clarinet under the guidance of his trumpet-playing father. However, it was his transition to the saxophone that truly ignited his musical career. Inspired by jazz legends such as Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker, Williams developed a unique style that blended elements of traditional jazz with his own innovative approach. His ability to channel the spirit of these influential musicians while forging his own path contributed to his distinctive sound and artistic vision.

20 Years of Sobriety and Support for Fellow Musicians

In addition to his musical accomplishments, Mars Williams was an advocate for sobriety and a pillar of support for fellow musicians. He achieved a remarkable milestone of 20 years of sobriety, serving as an inspiration to those struggling with addiction. Williams actively participated in the MusiCares program, an organization dedicated to providing assistance and resources to musicians in need. His commitment to helping others in the music community showcased his compassion and generosity. Williams’ unwavering support and dedication to his fellow musicians left a lasting impact, reminding us of the importance of unity and compassion within the industry.

Through his early life experiences, musical influences, and philanthropic efforts, Mars Williams demonstrated not only his exceptional talent but also his commitment to making a positive impact on the world. His journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of music and the importance of supporting one another in the pursuit of artistic excellence.

Celebration-of-Life Event

Benefit Concert and Special Guests

In honor of the late Mars Williams, a celebration-of-life event will be held to pay tribute to his remarkable musical legacy. Originally planned as a benefit concert for his medical care, this event will now serve as a heartfelt gathering to commemorate his life and contributions to the music world. Taking place at Chicago’s Metro, the concert promises to be a memorable and uplifting experience.

The event will feature an extraordinary lineup of special guests, including Richard Butler, Zachary Alford, and Rich Good of the Psychedelic Furs, as well as Ike Reilly and Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band. These esteemed musicians will join forces with Williams’ longtime bandmates in Liquid Soul to create a truly unforgettable performance. The concert will be a testament to the profound impact that Williams had on his fellow musicians and the enduring legacy he leaves behind.

This celebration-of-life event will not only be a musical tribute but also a gathering of friends, fans, and loved ones who will come together to honor and remember Mars Williams. It will be a time to reflect on his extraordinary talent, his passion for music, and the joy he brought to countless lives through his performances. The concert will serve as a reminder of the power of music to unite and heal, and a testament to the lasting impact that Williams had on the music community.

Mars Williams, renowned saxophone player and member of bands like the Waitresses and the Psychedelic Furs, has passed away at the age of 68. He battled ampullary cancer, a rare form of the disease, for a year. Williams’ saxophone skills were integral to the Waitresses’ success, particularly on hits like “Christmas Wrapping” and “I Know What Boys Like.” He later joined the Psychedelic Furs and played with numerous other jazz and rock musicians throughout his career. Williams’ unique talent and enthusiasm for music will be greatly missed. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.

Leave a Comment