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Mars Williams: Life and Music Career
Early Life and Education
Mars Williams, born in 1955, was an American saxophonist known for his contributions to jazz, free jazz, and rock music. He grew up in Chicago and started playing the saxophone at a young age. Williams attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied painting, but his passion for music led him to pursue a career in the field.
Career with Psychedelic Furs
Williams’ career took off in the 1980s when he joined the British rock band, The Psychedelic Furs. He played saxophone on their hit song, “Pretty in Pink,” which became a staple of the new wave era. Williams also played on their albums, “Forever Now” and “Mirror Moves,” which helped establish the band’s sound.
Contributions to Jazz and Free Jazz
In addition to his work with The Psychedelic Furs, Williams was also a respected jazz musician. He played with the NRG Ensemble, a Chicago-based free jazz group, and later formed his own band, the Mars Williams Quartet. Williams also collaborated with other jazz musicians, including Ken Vandermark, Fred Anderson, and Peter Brötzmann.
Williams’ musical style was heavily influenced by free jazz, but he also incorporated elements of acid jazz and rock into his music. He was known for his energetic and improvisational playing style, which made him a sought-after musician for live performances and recordings.
Throughout his career, Williams released several solo albums, including “Witches & Devils” and “Music for Mars.” He also played with other bands, such as Liquid Soul, and toured extensively.
Overall, Mars Williams was a talented and versatile musician who made significant contributions to the world of music. His unique style and passion for the saxophone will continue to inspire future generations of musicians.
Mars Williams: Illness and Legacy
Mars Williams, the renowned saxophonist and member of the new wave band The Psychedelic Furs, passed away on November 20, 2023, at the age of 68 after a year-long battle with ampullary cancer.
Battle with Ampullary Cancer
Williams was diagnosed with the rare form of cancer, which forms in the digestive system, in December 2022. He underwent treatment in New York City and was supported by his family and friends, including Richard Butler, the lead singer of The Psychedelic Furs. A GoFundMe campaign was also started to help with Williams’ medical expenses.
Despite his illness, Williams continued to perform and even participated in a benefit show for DePaul University’s School of Music in May 2023. He also collaborated with Ministry on their upcoming album, which is set to be released in 2024.
Legacy and Tributes
Williams’ death was met with an outpouring of tributes from his fans, fellow musicians, and colleagues. The Chicago Tribune described Williams as a “versatile and dynamic saxophonist” who “left an indelible mark on the music world.” A photo of Williams on stage, saxophone in hand, was shared widely on social media as fans and friends paid their respects.
Williams’ legacy as a member of The Psychedelic Furs and Liquid Soul, as well as his collaborations with other musicians, will continue to inspire and influence future generations of musicians.