ecology music landscape mythology
27 March 1957 – 22 January 1997
Billy Mackenzie was a singer from Scotland (Dundee) who had his moment on top of the pops fronting the Associates. Maybe not his best moment, though if you like 80s glam it could grab you. I still love the first album best - the Affectionate Punch - later described as polished demos, but then demos often have more character than finished product. And alongside this, his final album - Beyond the Sun - likewise basic recordings made before his death and completed posthumously.
I only ever heard him once live. At the famous Ronnie Scott's gig, where he sang for a brief half hour. And he was very nervous. I went backstage to say hello and he was utterly charming. In fact he is supposedly the subject of Morrissey's 'This Charming Man'.
He walked an idiosyncratic path. A voice that soared from husky breathiness through ethereal octaves, strange surreal words, a canny smile and a bag full of foibles. He picked up a cult following, with an impressive array of more famous fans. But, somehow, he disappeared into a conflict zone with his own demons. So human.
Billy committed suicide on the 22nd january 1997, a few weeks before his 40th birthday.
Ah, Billy, why'd you have to leave so soon. I'd have loved to work on some music with you.
Billy singing the David Bowie song 'Wild is the Wind' with Steve Aungle on piano.