Fan: "Could I have your autograph? I listen to your records everyday"
Kevin: "You must lead a boring life"


Born Jan 27 1944 in Derby, UK.
Married Lesley in 1965. Has two sons, Eugene and Robert (who both played with him in the late 90s).
Studied Art in Derby.
Worked as a social therapist at Whittingham psychiatric Hospital near Preston, Lancashire, an experience that would strongly influence his inspiration. *
Moved to London in 1969, working as a social worker for the Camden Accomodation Scheme (Soho Project).

Kevin Coyne first played as soon as 1969 with SIREN, a boogie-blues-ballad band who recorded two LPs for John Peel's Dandelion Records. Says Kevin Coyne: "Kind of a British Blues with an art twist".

He then signed under his own name with Virgin for a dozen of albums. From 1973 to 1976, with the help of famous musicians such as pianist Zoot Money or future Police Andy Summers, his music went from blues-folk-rock ("Marjory Razorblade" LP) to some harder, powerful rock, culminating with a double-live album (a must for every hot artist of the 70s...). But Coyne, turning his back on success, radically changed his style with his later Virgin records: some of his masterpieces ("Dynamite Daze", "Millionaires and Teddy Bears", "Babble" (1978-79), strange, moving and beautiful records with sparse orchestration or arrangements.

Coyne then experienced a period of nervous breakdown, alcoholism and a divorce. His early 1980's records are dark and fascinating opus, played by jazz-rock influenced musicians (Brian Godding, Pete Kirtley...).

He moved to Germany in the eighties, playing with local musicians. His late 80s-early 90s records - only available in Germany at the time - were not at level with his earlier work. Kevin Coyne's name got lost for most of his old fans...

Kevin had a third son - Nico - in Germany.

The late 90s, with a new, bigger, label (Ruf Records, Germany) and a couple of very good CDs - some of them with his sons Robert and Eugene playing - put him again under the spotlight. He toured the US for the first time and more and more people are now showing a growing interest in Coyne's music, painting and writing.

In the late 90s, he married Helmi, now his manager. They ran their own label, 'Turpentine Records'.

(photo by Michael Starr)

Kevin Coyne sang, played acoustic guitar in a very personal way: "I lent an open tuning to the guitar, which some people call 'open-E' or 'Spanish' tuning. And... my tiny hands had trouble making proper chords so I started using my thumb. But originally I used a metal rod to do things like 'Dust My Broom' and Elmore James blues-type numbers. Then I started using my finger instead of a metal slide and it developed on from there, and it's all gotten quite complicated now..."; on another occasion, he simply said: "You notice my guitar technique: I got it from Jimi Hendrix"...). He played occasional harmonica, keyboards and electric guitar. He was a songwriter but also a writer and a painter.

In 2003, Kevin Coyne was diagnosed with fibrosis in his lungs, an illness that causes shortage of breath, problems climbing stairs and required him to take in oxygen at least 16 hours a day. But he could still sing with the same power. Said Kevin in 2004: "Those of you attending the shows will probably note my reliance on a small oxygen tank and plastic pipe throughout. Recent advice from doctors has led to this. Bravely puffing and panting through songs without extra air is now forbidden. I must preserve my health. This rotten lung fibrosis of mine demands I do what they say."

Kevin Coyne died on thursday 2 December 2004. He had been unwell the day before but had rallied but in the morning he died peacefully with his wife at their Nuremberg home


* Check these beautiful photos from the derelict Whittingham Hospital where Kevin Coyne worked in the 60s: "extracts from a Kevin interview by Frank Bangay: "I was living in Preston, Lancs, working at Whittingham psychiatric hospital and joined [Siren] for some recording in 1968." - [Case History] "The album reflects my work in Whittingham hospital and as a social worker for the Soho project in London. The intensity of it all reflects my concern and passion for the problems of the underdog. It's a record, dedicated to the unfortunate amongst us." - "House on the Hill is about Whittingham hospital, about the grey atmosphere, the primitive conditions and the rest. It's a song with a glimmer of hope, but not much. My time as an out of work drunk wondering around Brixton is mentioned too. It's a very personal song." More info about this hospitel here.

Here is how Turpentine Records presented Kevin in 2004: "Although Kevin has lived in Germany for nearly twenty years he still values his English background highly, still sings about English life, love affairs etc. The silver haired, sixty year old former enfant terrible continues to tour Europe and America extensively, almost totally independent of record industry influence and finance. With over forty albums to his name Coyne stands proudly alone and, hopefully free of all the nonsense associated with the phony, teen-obsessed side of show business. His was never the easy way, but those who listen properly should get the message. The man is an artist."

A very good biography of the early years by Allan Jones (Melody Maker) can be found on the original LP "In Living Black and White", another one by Robert Lloyd on the CD release of "Dynamite Daze".

Finally, read "Going Underground" by Robert Chalmers, published in the Independant Sunday Review, Dec 11 2005. 3 full pages, a superb article. 1 2 3 4

(see also the Links page and Press pages).