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Mike Ratledge

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Michael R. “Mike” Ratledge (born April 1943) is a musician. Ratledge was part of the scene and a long-time member of Soft Machine. Ratledge also met Brian’s younger brother Hugh, and Robert Wyatt. In 1961 he met Daevid Allen, who interested them in playing jazz. Through Cecil Taylor’s piano pieces Ratledge became familiar with the music of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. In 1963 he played in the Daevid Allen Trio. Unlike his friends, Ratledge wanted to further his education, and studied at University College, Oxford, where he earned a degree in psychology and philosophy. At the same time he attended music lessons, and was educated by avant-garde musicians Mal Dean and Rab Spall. After his graduation Ratledge intended to go to a university in the United States, but his application for a scholarship was filed too late. In 1966 his friends were forming a new band and asked Ratledge to join. Soft Machine featured among others Robert Wyatt, Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers. In the years to follow there were many personnel changes and by 1973 Ratledge was the only remaining member of the original lineup. In 1976 Ratledge decided to leave Soft Machine to build a solo career, leaving the band under the supervision of Karl Jenkins. He built himself a studio, but a solo album was never released. In 1977, Ratledge provided the score for the film Riddles of the Sphinx. Ratledge was a seminal figure on the Canterbury music scene. As Soft Machine’s longest-lasting member, he evolved with the band from psychedelic music to jazz-rock. In the 1980s Ratledge was active as a composer and musical producer for commercials and the theatre.

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