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Simeon Coxe, Electronic Music Pioneer And Silver Apples Mainstay, Dead At 82

The proto-electronic sound Silver Apples created across their first two albums, 1968’s ‘Silver Apples’ and follow-up ‘Contact’ remains influential to this day.

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Photo: Mick Hutson/Redferns

Simeon Coxe of pioneering US electronic music duo, Silver Apples, has died. He was 82.

An official statement concerning Coxe’s death reads, “Simeon Coxe of Silver Apples peacefully pasted away at 4am on Tuesday 8th Sept 2020. He was 82 years old (June 4 1938 to Sept 8 2020). He had been battling with a progressive lung condition, Pulmonary Fibrosis, which made it difficult for him to breath without oxygen.

“Simeon is survived by his long term companion and creative collaborator, Lydia Winn Levert, brother David Coxe (and wife Foster) and his nephew Aaron Coxe and family.

“Silver Apples, leaves a lasting legacy and contribution to electronic music with their ground breaking sound that has influenced many artists over the years, right up to the present day. Rest in Peace Simeon.”

Born in Knoxville, TN, Coxe grew up in New Orleans from the age of seven. He was an artist and a news reporter-producer for WKRG, TV, Mobile, AL in the 1970’s, as well as other out of state TV stations in the 70s and 80s. He is famously best known worldwide for his work in electronic music with his band, Silver Apples.

In the late 60s, Coxe became an electronic musician, playing, what he once described to this site as an “ex-military” oscillator for the Overland Stage Electric Band, but his futuristic vision for new music alienated most of the group, leading to a mass exodus. Coxe and the sole remaining member, drummer Danny Taylor, formed the Silver Apples in 1967.

The line-up of drums and home-made synthesizer, constructed from (as described in the liner notes of their debut album) “nine audio oscillators piled on top of each other and eighty-six manual controls to control lead, rhythm and bass pulses with hands, feet and elbows” – with Coxe also on vocals – was revolutionary.

The sound created across their first two albums – Silver Apples (1968) and Contact (1969) – remains influential to this day but they were initially a short-lived project. After a brief tour to promote Contact the band was sued out of existence by Pan Am – the airline took exception to the record’s cover, which showed the duo piloting a plane on the front that was then pictured crashed to the ground on the back cover – the band had apparently promised them to show the Pan Am logo instead. A third album was shelved and they split.

A reformation with a new line up happened in 1996 leading to new shows – although Taylor was tracked down and he rejoined for a string of dates. This reunion led to the final completion and release of their third album, The Garden. Coxe suffered a broken neck after a serious tour bus crash in 1998, but he recovered sufficiently to start playing again.

Taylor passed away from cancer in 2005, but In 2007, Coxe revived the Silver Apples name once more as a solo vehicle and began touring again. He played in the UK on numerous occasions and released another Silver Apples album in 2016, Clinging To A Dream.

Tributes to the trailblazing musician have already begun to circulate. Portishead’s Geoff Barrow Tweeted: “RIP Simeon Cox. What an amazing guy he was – an inspiration not just musically, but in life as we hung out many times over the years. Hopefully now him and Danny can play as silver apples in the sky as they were supposed. very sad x. Thx to @adrianutley for introducing them to me.”

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