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

Mars Williams Dies at 68: Williams’ saxophone skills were a vital component of the Waitresses’ music, particularly on their hit songs like “Christmas Wrapping” and “I Know What Boys Like.” He later joined the Psychedelic Furs and played with them for several years. In addition to his work with these bands, Williams was also a member of the Chicago group Liquid Soul, which received a Grammy nomination in 2001.

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

Known for his versatility and enthusiasm, Williams collaborated with numerous rock and jazz musicians throughout his career, including Billy Idol, the Killers, and Jerry Garcia. He also led his own ensembles and was known for his annual “Ayler Xmas Tour,” combining the music of Albert Ayler with Christmas carols.

Williams’ musical journey began with classical clarinet before transitioning to the saxophone. He cited influential figures like Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker as his inspirations.

Despite his passing, Williams’ legacy will live on through his music and the impact he made on the jazz and rock communities. A benefit concert in his honor will take place this Saturday in Chicago, featuring his longtime bandmates from Liquid Soul and special guests from the Psychedelic Furs and the Dave Matthews Band.

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Sax Player for Psychedelic Furs and Waitresses, Dies at 68

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. On Monday, at the age of 68, Williams passed away, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional talent and unforgettable performances. His contributions to various bands and ensembles have solidified his place as a true icon in the world of music.

Cause of Death: Ampullary Cancer

It is with heavy hearts that we share the cause of Mars Williams’ untimely passing. After a year-long battle, he succumbed to ampullary cancer, a rare form of the disease. Despite his diagnosis, Williams continued to inspire and captivate audiences with his incredible saxophone skills until the very end. His unwavering passion for music and determination to share his gift with the world will forever be remembered.

Please note that the content provided is a fictional tribute and does not reflect the actual circumstances surrounding Mars Williams’ passing.

Contributions to The Waitresses and The Psychedelic Furs

Key Element in The Waitresses

Mars Williams’ exceptional talent on the saxophone played a pivotal role in the success of The Waitresses. During the band’s influential two-album tenure from 1980 to 1983, Williams’ saxophone skills added a unique and captivating element to their music. His contributions can be heard on iconic songs like “Christmas Wrapping,” “Square Pegs,” and “I Know What Boys Like.” Additionally, his saxophone solos on tracks like the title song of their “Bruiseology” LP showcased his versatility and mastery of the instrument.

Tenure with The Psychedelic Furs

Following his time with The Waitresses, Mars Williams was invited to join The Psychedelic Furs as a temporary replacement for their saxophonist during an overseas tour in 1983. However, what was initially meant to be a temporary arrangement turned into a remarkable tenure that lasted until 1989. Williams’ saxophone skills became an integral part of The Psychedelic Furs’ sound, adding depth and richness to their music. After a hiatus, he rejoined the band in 2005 and continued to impress audiences with his exceptional performances until his final tour dates in October of this year. Williams’ contributions to The Psychedelic Furs solidified his status as a highly respected and sought-after saxophone player in the rock music scene.

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Work with Jazz Ensembles and Experimental Music

25 Years with Liquid Soul

Mars Williams’ musical journey extended beyond rock and into the realm of jazz and experimental music. For an impressive 25 years, he was a member of the esteemed Chicago group Liquid Soul. Their fusion of bebop and hip-hop garnered critical acclaim, earning them a Grammy nomination for best contemporary jazz record in 2001. Williams’ saxophone prowess added a dynamic and electrifying element to Liquid Soul’s music, captivating audiences with his muscular horn playing, razor-sharp raps, and rhythm-infused turntable beats. His contributions to the ensemble solidified his reputation as a jazz virtuoso with an experimental edge.

Collaborations with Rock and Jazz Musicians

Mars Williams’ exceptional talent on the saxophone led him to collaborate with a diverse range of rock and jazz musicians. His impressive list of collaborators includes Billy Idol, the Killers, Power Station, Wayne Kramer, Ministry, and many more. Williams’ ability to seamlessly transition between genres showcased his versatility as a saxophone player. Whether it was adding his signature sound to Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” tour or lending his skills to jazz luminaries like John Scoffield and Kurt Elling, Williams consistently delivered exciting and captivating performances. His collaborations with renowned musicians across different genres further solidified his reputation as a highly respected and sought-after saxophonist.

Legacy and Personal Life

Annual “Ayler Xmas Tour”

One of the many ways Mars Williams left an indelible mark on the music world was through his annual “Ayler Xmas Tour.” This unique and captivating tour combined the music of free-jazz great Albert Ayler with beloved Christmas carols. Williams’ innovative approach to blending genres created a one-of-a-kind experience for audiences, showcasing his creativity and ability to push musical boundaries. The “Ayler Xmas Tour” became a cherished tradition, delighting fans and spreading holiday cheer through the power of music.

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Influences and Musical Background

Mars Williams’ musical journey was shaped by a diverse range of influences. As a young musician, he honed his skills playing classical clarinet for a decade, under the guidance of his trumpet-playing father. Williams’ early inspirations included jazz legends such as Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, and Charlie Parker. As his musical journey progressed, he fell under the spell of the pioneering saxophonist Ornette Coleman. These influences, combined with his own unique style and passion for experimentation, contributed to the development of Williams’ distinctive sound and musical approach.

Advocacy for Fellow Musicians

In addition to his remarkable musical career, Mars Williams was actively involved in supporting struggling fellow musicians through the MusiCares program. With his own experience of overcoming personal challenges and maintaining sobriety for 20 years, Williams understood the importance of providing assistance and guidance to those in need. His dedication to helping others in the music community showcased his compassion and commitment to making a positive impact beyond the stage.

Celebration-of-Life Event

To honor the extraordinary life and musical contributions of Mars Williams, a celebration-of-life event will be held at Chicago’s Metro. Originally planned as a benefit for his medical care, the event will now serve as a tribute to his legacy. Esteemed musicians, including Richard Butler, Zachary Alford, Rich Good, Ike Reilly, and Jeff Coffin, will join Williams’ longtime bandmates in Liquid Soul for a memorable concert. This event will be a testament to the profound impact Mars Williams had on the music world and a chance for fans and fellow musicians to come together and celebrate his remarkable journey.

Mars Williams, a renowned saxophone player known for his work with bands like the Waitresses and the Psychedelic Furs, has passed away at the age of 68. Williams, diagnosed with ampullary cancer a year ago, made significant contributions to the music industry. His saxophone skills were showcased in popular songs like “Christmas Wrapping” and “I Know What Boys Like.” Williams also played with various jazz and rock musicians, including Billy Idol and Jerry Garcia. He was known for his versatility and enthusiasm for playing the saxophone. Williams’ legacy will be celebrated in a benefit concert featuring his bandmates from Liquid Soul. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans.