Simeon Coxe of Silver Apples
Photo: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns
Simeon Coxe, Silver Apples Founder And Synth Pioneer, Dies At 82
Simeon Coxe, an innovative synth musician and performer who founded the pioneering electronic rock group Silver Apples, died Tuesday (Sept. 8) following a battle with pulmonary fibrosis, a lung condition, Rolling Stone reports. He was 82.
Born in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1938 and partially reared in New Orleans, La., Coxe became a local figure in New York City's underground music scene after relocating there in the late-'60s. His former group, the '60s rock unit Overland Stage Electric Band, disbanded after he introduced a vintage oscillator into the act's sound, according to Rolling Stone, leaving drummer Danny Taylor as the sole remaining member.
Reimagined as Silver Apples in 1967, Coxe and Taylor pioneered a style that mixed primitive synthesizers over rock elements. Coxe's homemade electronic rig, dubbed "the Simeon," according to Rolling Stone, is considered to be "one of the earliest instances of electronic sound being used outside of academia," The Quietus reports.
During their initial run, Silver Apples released two underground albums on Kapp Records: their self-titled debut album in 1968 and Contact in 1969. After the band's third album, The Garden, was pulled due to a lawsuit with Pan Am, Silver Apples disbanded in 1970, according to AllMusic.
After bootlegged recordings of the band circulated around Germany in the mid-'90s, renewing interest in the long-dormant band, Coxe reformed Silver Apples with keyboardist Xian Hawkins, aka Sybarite, and drummer Michael Lerner. Together, the trio released two albums in 1998: Beacon, which featured Steve Albini as engineer, and Decatur.
That same year, Coxe and Taylor reunited under the original Silver Apples lineup. The duo revived early recordings of The Garden, which had long been shelved for nearly three decades, and released the album, considered to be the band's "lost" third LP, in 1998.
After Taylor died from cancer in 2005, Coxe continued to perform under the Silver Apples banner and used samples of the late drummer's playing in live shows.
Coxe released the final Silver Apples album, Clinging To A Dream, in 2016. The band's first album in nearly 20 years, it featured former member Xian Hawkins and Lydia Winn LeVert, the latter of whom was Coxe's "long-term companion and creative collaborator," according to The Guardian.
While the group's erratic run remained mostly within underground circles, Silver Apples gained a cult following throughout the decades. They counted legends like John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix as fans and later influenced seminal groups like Stereolab and Portishead.
Coxe is survived by his brother, David; his nephew, Aaron; and his longtime partner and collaborator, Winn LeVert.