The electronic music pioneer disbanded the group in the ’60s and returned with new albums decades later
Simeon Coxe—inventor and electronic musician behind the experimental psychedelic rock group Silver Apples—died on Tuesday, September 8, AL.com reports. He was 82.
In the late 1960s, Coxe was a member of the Overland Stage Electric Band when he decided to incorporate the sound of a vintage oscillator into the music. He formed a new duo called Silver Apples with drummer Danny Taylor, and their debut self-titled album was released in 1968. The electronic rig of his own creation was dubbed the Simeon, and it featured 16 oscillators, foot pedals, telegraph switches, wah-wah pedals, Echoplexes, and more. Jimi Hendrix was a fan of Silver Apples, and Coxe jammed with Hendrix on “The Star Spangled Banner” prior to Hendrix’s iconic Woodstock performance.
“Yeah the tapes would sometimes roll when we were playing together and some of that has survived,” Coxe told Geoff Barrow in an interview. “We found a two-track dub of Hendrix and me working on the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ Danny had taken it home to try and figure out a way to put a drum part to it because the way Jimi and I played it was almost non-rhythmical.”
The group’s breakup was prompted by a lawsuit from Pan Am Airlines over their 1969 album Contact. The duo are seen in a Pan Am airplane cockpit on the front cover, and on the back cover, they’re photographed near a wrecked plane. The Pan Am lawsuit over the album resulted in the album getting pulled from stores, the label Kapp Records folding, and the breakup of Silver Apples.
“New York City Marshals actually came on the stage at Max’s Kansas City and confiscated some of our equipment,” Coxe told Red Bull Music Academy in 2012. “The result was that we couldn’t play music to earn a living, Kapp folded, word quickly spread in the industry that Silver Apples were ‘untouchables,’ and Danny and I just said, ‘screw this!’ And we parted ways.”
Following the group’s dissolution, Coxe worked as a news reporter and producer for WKRG TV in Mobile, Alabama. He worked in Alabama television in the 1970s and 1980s. He claimed that he was fired from his news reporter job over an exposé about local mall Santas. “When that came out on television, mothers started calling that station, said their children were on the floor screaming that I had ruined Christmas,” he said.
Silver Apples were revived by Coxe in 1996. A new lineup featuring Xian Hawkins produced two albums in the ’90s: Beacon (1997) and Decatur (1998). In 1998, Coxe and Danny Taylor reunited the original lineup for live shows and a new album called The Garden. That same year, Coxe sustained extensive injuries in a car crash, including a broken neck. Taylor died in 2005, and Coxe continued to sample his drumming in subsequent Silver Apples performances. The last Silver Apples album was 2016’s Clinging to a Dream.