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Hugh Hopper

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Canterbury, United Kingdom (1963 – 2009)

Hugh Hopper (29 April 1945 - 7 June 2009) was a composer and bass player from Canterbury, United Kingdom who achieved his highest public profile through his work with Soft Machine between 1968 and 1972. Though mass-market acceptance was never high on his list of priorities, Hopper will be remembered by connoisseurs of British experimental for his instrumental gifts and his idiosyncratic composing style, with The Soft Machine, as well as on a long string of solo albums, the most recent of which was Dune (2008).

Born in Kent, Hopper found himself in at the ground floor of what would become known as the “Canterbury scene”, a musical and philosophical network encompassing Kevin Ayers & The Whole World, Gong, Caravan and Henry Cow. When he became a member of The Wilde Flowers in June 1963 , his was a fairly conventional pop and soul band that served as a seed bed for the late-1960s flowering of progressive music in the cathedral city. Future Soft Machinists Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers also passed though The Wilde Flowers, as did the future members of Caravan.

Hopper joined Soft Machine at the end of 1968, after they had toured with Jimi Hendrix in the US, recorded a debut album in New York that was released solely in America, and had briefly featured the future band The Police, guitarist Andy Summers. Hopper, having been the group’s tour manager, replaced bassist/vocalist Ayers, completing the three-piece Soft Machine alongside the drummer Wyatt (with whom Hopper had briefly played, with the Australian guitarist/composer Daevid Allen) and the organist Mike Ratledge.

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from the album 1984

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